Ganges: The River Goddess
I left from Washington, D.C. at 10 pm on Thursday, February 19, 2009 along with half of the team - Argentinean cameraman Pablo, American writer MeiMei, and American producer Jim. We arrived, exhausted but exuberant with 300 pounds of video, photographic, and computer equipment, in New Delhi at 1:30 am the next day, Sat, Feb 21. The Australian half of the team, Ali, Ben, and Michael (Jocelyn joined us in Botswana) – had already arrived from their adopted home base of Cambodia.
So, why did we take this journey and what did we hope to accomplish?
We live on a water planet. Water is the reason for our existence. We are, quite literally, born of water. We -- and by "we" here I speak for every living creature on Earth -- evolved out of the primordial soup. What's more, each of us humans spent our first nine months suspended in the water of our mother's womb. We know water intimately. Drinking it keeps us alive. We bathe in it to cleanse ourselves. It evaporates from our skin when we need to cool off, and it fills our eyes when we feel intense pain or joy, when we are moved to experience our very humanity. And yet in spite of water’s obvious and central important to sustaining life on Earth, here we stand at the start of a new millennium with our most precious resource in critical condition across the globe.
In India, we tell the story of water as it relates to spirituality, to the human connection with the divine. In many religions, people use water to purify themselves: Christians through baptism, Muslims through ablutions, Jews through ritual hand washing, Hindus through worshipping the river Ganges as a living goddess. The water issues facing India’s mighty and holy Mother Ganga and the nation as a whole are the same issues faced by people everywhere. Yet this place provides a particularly vivid and visceral illustration of the real and short-term adaptations people will have to make as waters run dry to the way they perceive their religion, their world, and their passage into the next.