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In India everyone depends on the Ganges, a river that also gives rise to the most imposing and diverse landscapes (Photo: FIS Stock)

Jala: A Journey Through the Senses of Water

  (INDIA, 4/21/2012)

Jala: A Journey Through the Senses of Water, an independent documentary filmed in India along the Ganges River, explores the global environmental crisis and how is affecting the lifestyle of the Indian people.

In the Indian tradition everything returns in due time, but climate change appears to be an event with a sole inevitable outcome. This journey along the world’s most endangered river, and the rituals that make up the spiritual life of India, offers a unique perspective to rethink the global environmental crisis.

The morning heat announces the proximity of summer. More than 10 million pilgrims, some dressed only with ashes, come together in Haridwar to celebrate de Maha Kumbha Meela, the most visited religious celebration in the world.

On the valley bellow the Himalayas, 400 million farmers and fishermen get ready to gather the goods that will feed their families.

Everyone depends on the Ganges, a river that also gives rise to the most imposing and diverse landscapes, from the glaciers of the Himalayas to its mouth, the largest mangrove on Earth.

Jala: A journey through the meanings of water gathers the overabundant diversity of Indian a lyrical voyage along the river, where the most dissonant extremes, present in the colourful costumes, the smells and flavors, the majesty of the monuments (which gives a stark contrast to the apparent misery of those who roam them).

In India all this exuberance is integrated into cycles (seasonal, astronomical, human), which define a way to perceive and understand time in which the constituents of the universe are placed in a hierarchy and transmuted without ever finding a single and final outcome; instead they embark on new cycles at other levels of existence. 

This is evident especially in the many rituals performed along the river: fire rituals to purify those who have died; rituals to initiate those who start a new phase in their lives; rituals to feed the ancestors who dwell in the afterlife.


Just as the rituals are part of this cyclical conception of time in which the souls are “recycled” continuously, the practices of rural livelihood in India also follow a circular pattern, which prevents, for example, the appearance of a concept of waste or garbage in the Western sense.

Nowhere like in the banks of the Ganges is the identity between water and civilization so visible, or so patent, on the other hand, the effects of environmental degradation. Jala: A journey through the senses of water will try to shed light on this paradox, presenting traditional Indian values and practices and their unequal struggle to meet the growing effects of climate change.

Beyond what the Indians themselves can do, in less than a century the Ganges may disappear due to the increase in global temperature, and with the river, one of the oldest civilizations on Earth.

About Jala: A Journey Through the Senses of Water

The adventure of Jala (word meaning 'water' in Sanskrit) began in 2010 when a team of Colombian filmmakers traveled to India to record how the global environmental crisis affects the lifestyle of more than one billion people dependent on the river.

The documentary, which was filmed in high resolution digital video and produced and directed by Roberto Restrepo, is currently in the post-production stage.

Currently the producers are looking for funds for its completion and distribution. You can learn more about the project visiting Jala’s website www.jalafilms.com

Source: JalaFilms

Margaret E.L. Stacey
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