Water, the vital source of life
|Prompt 2 – Water.
That water is vital for survival is beyond debate. Jagan realized it very early in life. He and his brothers helped his mother and aunts to collect and carry water from the river by walking a distance in the morning before sunrise. Only when the water was abundant , women folk could cook, wash and clean the house. The family would store adequate amount of water in big containers.
He understood that water helps food to grow and thus the living beings survive.
When he looked at the small aquarium he had at home, he saw the gold fish swimming happily with their mouths open and fins active like his pet dog’s tail. The vast sea with its marine life is a true source of life
His occasional outing to the beach with friends brought him the experience of stumbling on crabs and enjoying the sight of the flying fish. The sea is really great, he thought. It houses multiple numbers of varieties of creatures of the sea, a vast reserve of salt water. Without the oceans, there wouldn’t have been marine life and the world would have been so much less for it. Those ships at anchorage must be from far corners and various continents of the world, he mused. The sea faring vessels are the only means of carrying cargo to and fro.
Water was scarce in his and other areas of the city too. This could be the basic reason why the people of the country living in various parts of the land consider water a divine element. They call it Ganga, the river Goddess. The river Ganga in Banaras stood for sanctity and survival. Belief was that a dip in the Ganges had the power to wash a person’s sins of previous births as well as the present one.
Wastage of water was frowned upon from ancient times, giving rise to sayings like those waste water usually waste money too. Water was the main ingredient in religious ceremonies and rituals. Water mixed with a pinch of turmeric was sprinkled on the items used for worship and on people around was supposed to work like a disinfectant and a sanitizer.
On the weekend, Jagan read the interesting tale of the sage Rishyasringa from the Ramayana to the kids of his neighborhood that signified the importance of water.
Dasaratha, the king of Kosala, gave his daughter Shanta to his friend and fellow ruler, Romapada, the king of Anga for adoption. Romapada was childless. The relationship between the two kingdoms fortified with this connection. With the passage of time, Shanta blossomed into to a beautiful princess.
Once, a Brahmin came to Romapada begging for alms. Romapada, engaged in conversation with his dear daughter Shanta paid no attention to the poor man. So, Indra the chief deity of the elements was sad at this unkindly behavior of Romapada and cursed his kingdom to suffer from a lack of rain. Soon a horrific drought fell on the land and brought hell into people’s lives.
The king’s minister came up with an idea to solve the problem and rid the land of the curse of Indra.
“Oh King! There is a way to bring rain to our kingdom,” he said.
“I would be happy to know it,” said a much worried king.
“Sir, sage Vibhandaka has a son named, Rishyasringa. He is a pure soul and knows no distractions of the world. Apart from his father, he had never seen another human being. Due to his spiritual power, if he steps on our land, it will rain.”
Wheels turned in the king’s mind. The best way to entice the sage is to attract him to womanly charm. He chose some of the best concubines of his court and sent them on the mission of bringing Rishyasringa to the land of Anga from the bowels of the forest, where father and son lived a stoic life and performed Vedic rituals.
The king’s courtesans crossed the river by a well-decorated boat and hid themselves in a marsh. They waited till the old sage Vibhandaka left for collecting grains and firewood. The waiting women seized the right moment to appear before the young sage and introduce themselves as beings from another planet. Rishyasringa believed their words and felt happy spending time with them. They fed him sweetmeats and other edible stuff, which he found extremely tasty. Thus after wining and dining him, they convinced him to come with them and be their guest for some time. He agreed.
With the sage amidst them, they returned to the kingdom of Anga. The king and his daughter were ready to receive Rishyasringa. A smiling sage stepped on the land completely innocent of the purpose behind his visit. To the amazement of all, it started raining. Slowly, a huge downpour materialized and soon the whole land was drenched in the ceaseless rain. Prosperity returned to Anga after years of drought. Rishyasringa agreed to marry princess Shanta and remained with her in her land. His father realized that his son’s life had a different purpose and went back to his penance.
“That my friends, is the power and effect of rain,” said Jagan to the kids who were listening to him with rapt attention.
On the day on which water pipes were laid in his colony, Jagan felt happy. Within a month or two, water would be supplied through the pipelines laid by the government. They don’t have to go to the river for carrying water to home.
Jagan learnt in his social science class that depressions at sea caused rainfall in regions close to it. Rainfall during depression was the biggest source of water other than water sources like the rivers and lakes found though out the length and width of the country. He read that monsoon in India was not regular, because it depended of the winds from neighboring regions. States like his own Andhra Pradesh down south, go through periods of acute water scarcity due to failure of monsoon. So the question of providing water to the huge population of the state loomed large before the state government.
Then they came up with the plan of water harvesting. The idea is to save the water from rains of monsoon and cyclones caused by the formation of depression at sea. It was a brilliant idea that found support from people and successfully implemented.
Water harvesting is to recognize the value of rain water and save it to increase groundwater level to their advantage.
In Jagan’s own state of Andhra Pradesh in the south, water harvesting was made mandatory from June, 2001 for all buildings with an area of 300 square meters. The urban development authority of many metropolitan cities in India started constructing water harvesting structures in the houses, apartment buildings, commercial and other premises. The purpose is to channel rainwater from the roof tops through pipes into the ground. For that, they dig up a pit, measuring ten by ten feet depth into the ground. Layers of pebbles laid at that depth help the roof top rain-water flow through pipes and soak into the ground causing to bring up the level of ground water. This in turn helps water sources like rivers, ponds and lakes to retain enough water for the dry seasons.
Jagan and his family were the first in their locality to let the Urban Development Authority lay the structure for water harvesting in their house. Others followed in quick succession.
Written for World Weavers’ Championship hosted by Nana Spindle