Journey With The River Cauvery, 2009
Australian Video Exchange Program
My connection to Cauvery water now is through Bangalore city where I live, even though River and myself are natives of the same place – kodagu. Most of us here collect the water for drinking and cooking and for pooja (worship) individually when the corporation water comes every alternate days – (Which I still do) considered as pure water (madi neeru) before it goes to our individual storage tanks. That’s where I thought of traveling along with the River to see what happens to the water by the time it reaches Bangalore.
The River Cauvery of south India is one among the seven most sacred rivers of India. The source of River Cauvery is called Tala cauvery. It is located at the foot hills of Bramagiri hills which is a part of the Western Ghats in Kodagu District of Karnataka State. It is located at a height of 1535 meters from the sea level. In Kodagu, River Cauvery is adored by the people as “Nadadevata”- Gaurdian Deity. Apart from this, it is unique that River Cauvery is being worshiped by natives of Kodagu as ‘Kuladdevatha’- Family Diety.
During my Journey it was mesmerizing and enchanting to see the flow of her beauty in the midst of forest, mountains, towns and villages. People of Karnataka and Tamilnadu satates are blessed by River Cauvery. Lakhs of hectares of land in Karnataka and Tamilnadu have been fertilized by the river waters of Cauvery. Numerous industrial factories and business concerns are functioning in the states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu on account of the water resources of Cauvery.
This video negotiates the landscape of the river, and it flows through the sacred and secular, private and public domains. The rivers in India are named after women and always refer to mythical origins, the use and control of river waters have been part of the dominant social and political discourses with sharing of waters for irrigation, building dams and harnessing hydro electricity. The importance of tributaries which makes River Cauvery the main River. The visual narrative is a personal journey to locate the urban self and to question the faith that is passed on to me about the purity of water and its mythical and sacred associations heard from oral narratives.
I am exploring my relation with the most contested water resource of river Cauvery and using my body to navigate through the river till it reaches the Bay of Bengal. The images travel through traditional spaces of worship, contamination, rituals of bathing, washing and other communal activity. This poetic journey through the landscape has references to my earlier site – specific installations and interventions in landscapes using organic materials.
© All images copyright and courtesy of the artist