The waterfall is one of the most powerful and beautiful manifestations of water. It happens when a river plunges over a rocky edge into a pool below. Every cell in my body throbbed with the thunder of the Iguassu falls in Brazil, as our frail boat sped under the stinging spray under the gigantic waterfalls which thunders over 23 kilometers. In some places it falls from a height of 269 ft. It is made up of 300 waterfalls. The most spectacular is the Devil’s throat, falling into a chasm from a height of 246ft, where 50% of the water in the river falls.
The raincoat was laughable protection against the power of what the original inhabitants call the ‘Big Water’. Legend has it, that a Divine Being wanted to marry a beautiful girl called Naipi. She fled with her lover Taroba in a canoe on the river. The Deity, wild with rage, sliced the river, creating a waterfall, where the lovers were condemned to an eternal fall!
‘Life means water, soil and seeds. One holds no meaning without the other. Water is the life of the people,’ writes Car Oliveira, of Bolivia, Coordinator for the Defense of Water and Life. Nature is an indulgent parent who provides more than enough water to her children. It is we as people, communities and governments who need to protect this precious resource which is critical to our survival.
There are four major areas that we need to consider in the defense of water:
1. Rain Water Harvesting
2. Keeping water sources clean
3. Ensuring water recovery and recycling
4. Participating in water conservation
In the midst of the Indian monsoons, I realize that even when there is a shortage of water supply in our cities, our streets are getting flooded. We walked barefoot through the gentle trickling waterfalls at Kemmangudi to reach the Veera Bhadreshwara Temple. This is the spot where God Shiva killed his demonic father in law Daksha. The water washed away the blood from his hands.
That is the ancient belief about water. That it purifies, that it washes away the most heinous sin. As we walked back, I felt a stinging pain in my foot. Someone had left an open safety pin in the water! After taking the necessary shots and cleaning the foot, I wondered why we feel impelled to pollute water. As my eyes followed the stream that fell in a cascade for several meters before flowing on, I saw colourful metres of cloth and on the side, empty plastic sachets of chips and other junk food. Why do people insult water by throwing garbage indiscriminately into her patient lap? In the serene kingdom of Bhutan, no plastic is manufactured. All packaging is bio-degradable, why can’t other countries follow it? Find a beautiful waterfall and think about these things.
Let us think about becoming water literate and making our children so. Nature has denizens who know how to store water in their own bodies. The Saguaro Thorn, Cactus of Arizona has roots that travel for 20 meters through the desert searching for water. At a weight 10 tons, it stores 8 tones of water collected during the rare bouts of rain.
What can we do:
• Become mindful and reverent towards all forms of water.
• Use, rinse, bath and washing water on sturdy plants. Make sure that the soaps and detergents we use are not toxic.
• Use water carefully and reverently