Several hundred Poronaysk residents and guests gathered on the shore of Terpeniya Bay to celebrate the Feeding of the Sea Master Festival, despite the rainy forecast. The festival gains more popularity each year. In 2017, elders of the Indigenous Peoples of Sakhalin prepared a special feast and, surrounded by a crowd of Sakhaliners, gave it to the sea. They begged the Spirit Master of the Sea, Namu Ede-Ni, for success in fishing: May the coming fishing season be abundant!
Performances by ethnic groups and competitions in traditional sports were carried out all day on the shores of the bay. Teams from the Okha, Nogliki, Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, Tymovsky, Poronaysky, and Smirykhovsky districts and Yuznho-Sakhalinsk competed in traditional arts like archery, tossing a lasso over reindeer antlers, jumping over sledges, ethnic fighting, and ethnic cooking.
The roots of the festival are centuries old. The Indigenous Peoples living on Sakhalin have performed this ritual since ancient times. Each year people of the island dutifully opened the salmon fishing season with an offering to the Master of the Sea. Salmon has always been a primary source of food for these native people. Their welfare throughout the year depends on a successful fishing season. Thus, for the indigenous tribes, a successful fishing season is dependent upon the Master of the Sea. They believe that if the feast prepared for the Master is favorable to him, he will send an abundance of fish into the fishermen’s nets.
The ritual attracts more and more guests to Poronaysk every year and is gradually taken on regional significance. In addition to Sakhalin residents, guests from other regions of Russia and even from abroad have started coming to the celebration.
The Sakhalin-1 Consortium has helped fund the Feeding of the Spirit Master of the Sea every year for eight years. This is a component of the program to preserve the authentic culture and the unique languages and traditions of the indigenous minorities. Fishing has always been a part of life of Sakhaliners. Thus, the ritual has become a part of the common culture of our multinational Sakhalin society.