Kaveri and Kabini Rivers, Karnataka, India

The Kaveri RIver and Kabini Rivers in south western India are both considered sacred rivers.The rivers are fed by different rivers and flow eastward and merge in Tirumakudalu Narasipura, in the Indian state of Karnataka.  

Kitty Schulz, an annual ashram resident, creative, and arobatic performer, dipped a two pieces of cloth, one in each river. A Small scarf with red stripe was dipped in Kaveri RIver in Nanjanagudu, a town in the Mysore district famous for Srikanteshwara Temple. Segregated washing, ladies in the front and men to the rear washing away of sins at Gosai Ghat.
The ritual of bathing in a holy river is admired for the enduring devotion and tradition.
A women lovingly washes her husband’s back.This is the location where a large piece of cloth was retrieved from the rocks to dip into the Kabini River. Tiny beauty combing her hair on the steps (ghats) leading down to the river.

The larger scarf, found floating in the water early, was dipped where the two rivers merge at Tirumakudalu Narasipura

The fabric resembles the dhotis, the cloth men wear into the river. The temple priests, and other Brahmins, often wear white dhotis with golden embroidery around the edges. Priest chanting and men bathing beside a “temple,” a stone pole in the middle of the river. On top, is a sacred statue of the Nandi, the bull guarding the abode of Lord Shiva.

The men are freshly shaven, most likely the haircut is part of purification ritual which includes bathing in the river and often scattering ashes of a cremated relative. 

The holy confluence ofthe Kaveri RIver and Kabini Rivers is a national attraction where the Hindu pilgrimage, Kumbhamela, takes place.

HEADLINES: The 125 year Kaveri River water dispute,  Soon, We May Not Have a Cauvery River to Fight Over

Muthirappuzha-Nallathanni-Kundaly India


I am here in the lush, tropical landscape of Munnar, an Indian resort town formed by hills and tea plantations, which fall away beyond cerulean mists in the distance. The name Munnar is conjoined from Munu (three) and aaru (river), words taken from Tamil and Malayalam, two overlapping languages heard in this southeastern Idukki district of Kerala state which borders neighboring Karnataka, where Tamil is the predominant language. At an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, Munnar lies at the convergence of three vital waterways, the Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundaly rivers. 
 Hours before dipping my mother-in-law’s white veil in a tributary that flows before me, I wave hello to a woman there as she dries her laundry on the surrounding rocks. Perhaps, she is a tea picker, an employee of the tea company; I do not know her nor do I speak her local dialect, but I am glad when she waves back, pausing for a moment to include me in her domestic routine. The hot sun has burnished her skin, and her colored sari—wrapped at the waist and pulled up to her knees—reflects the iridescence of moving water and life’s simpleness.

These waters run crystal clear alongside our rented bungalow that sits amidst the vast Letchmi Tea Estates; about fifteen kilometers away from Munnar’s congested main streets, we are now embraced in silence and deep inside a green valley that appears to dip, rise, and undulate. This place is often referred to as “heaven on earth,” a local guide tells me, and I can see that this is true, although I wonder where all the water goes—how many people touch this water and rely on it for their daily use, after it irrigates the tea plantations day in and day out?

Munnar is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The air is rich, unpolluted, and healing; my body feels cool and light, relieved of anticipation and divined by nature’s essence. As far as the eye can see, tea grows along terraced and patterned hillsides; a grid of pathways allows the pickers to reach every waist-high plant. High on the mountainside fog touches everything, and moisture remains in the air like tears resting on warmed skin. The locals in this plantation are employed by Tata, and they are given land, housing, medical services, and schooling for their children—for this I am glad. I catch their exuberance and questioning eyes. Women are the primary tea pickers here, because of the size of their hands and their ability to snap the twigs with ease. When their bags are full of fresh-picked leaves, they collect their harvest in large gunny sacks at the bottom of each hill, hoist the sacks on their heads, and then proceed to a weighing station by the snaking road. A manager makes a written note of each weighed sack, before workers truck the tea leaves to a processing plant elsewhere in the valley.

Now the sound of flowing water beckons, and, with white veil in hand, I approach the river carefully, as I step on smooth rocks that lead me down a wet slope. The casual ceremony for art’s sake soon begins. I find my stance and lean forward, unfurling the long cloth like a flag attached to my hands. Immediately, the veil balloons over the moving water then begins to settle down over it gradually—getting drenched, taken, then lifted meaningfully moments later, a symbol of yet another world river. I spread the cloth on a dry rock and watch it dry.

Photos and Abstract: Cynthia Kerby, Ignatius Aloysius

Sabarmati River, Ahmedabad, India

Artist Monica Rezman on a visit to her husband’s family home in Gujarat, India. The fabric has little traditional reflective pieces on it.

“For the first time since I have come to Ahmedabad the river is full of water!”

It is September 2006 and I have just returned to India. It is my 5th visit since 1999 when I first came to Ahmedabad, Gujurat as an artist in Residence at The Kanoria Center for the Arts. In the past 6 years while being in India I have had a major exhibition of my work, Fell in love, survived an earthquake, married, witnessed a communal riot, became pregnant and have formed many significant friendships. While I have had all these experiences I have driven over the bridges that connect the new city from the old city many times. In between is the Sabarmati River. For me it is passing through two different cultures. On one side, the newly built mega malls, cinder apartment blocks, demolished old homes, the area where students from around India come to study. The side we live on. The safe side. The side the Hindus live on and the occasional muslim restaurant where they offer a non-veg meal. (meat). On the other side is where the magic is for me. It is primarily muslim. It is the side where on one block there is a mosque, catholic church, jewish synagogue, hindu temple and a parsi fire temple. There is an open air market where you shop for your daily needs, buy a goat, stumble upon a tomb of a king and queen from the 5th century. The narrow streets built hundreds of years ago will suddenly open up to reveal an elephant having his daily lunch. This is why I cross the Sabarmati river and for the first time since I have come to Ahmedabad the river is full of water!