every year, the ganga changes during the monsoon. she becomes mightier than ever… moves swiftly, charging down the slopes, and everywhere by her banks are signs of warning. “do not enter the water”.
she becomes inaccessible to the fervent pilgrim & untouchable to the adventurous rafter. she courses down the mountain, as if she owns the land. as if she was never tamed in shiva’s matted locks, as if she is still the angry ganga who was ordered to pour down on this earth. she stamps her authority, marks her presence and then simply moves on.
at varanasi though, she widens, she stretches across the land, claiming ownership, claiming more, claiming… she is the ocean now and i cannot see the other bank. she seems to meander, she seems to be calm. my mother says, in tamilnadu, they used to call the river kaveri, ‘the pregnant kaveri’ during the monsoon.
as i looked across the ‘pregnant ganga’, i was awed by the simplicity yet beauty of that description. she did seem pregnant! but i wondered? was she the calm, glowing pregnant woman or the one that is raging with hormones, temperamental and almost confused with the changes her body is going through?
after the monsoon, all is calm. the water slowly recedes and the ganga is accessible. pilgrims are bathing, the tourists are out on the boats and the ghats begin to get populated with the usual routine of ghat-life. but the ganga has left behind her monsoon fury. the ghats & khunds or ponds are covered with thick, sticky layers of silt and they need to be cleaned. it is an ardous task. i stood and watched, as a group of men used jet sprays to push the silt off the steps. it was a slow, difficult and required so much effort. in the 15 minutes i was there hardly a metre was cleared. imagine cleaning the entire ghats from one end of varanasi to the other. i asked the man in-charge, he said, “it takes more than a month. this time because of the floods there is much more silt. it might take us two.”
only to be repeated all over again in 12 months!
p.s. i am using the slide show method to show the pictures. what do you think? easier? better looking? or do you like the mosaic fashion of the other posts more! tell me your view.