Jala: A journey through the meanings of water gathers the overabundant diversity ofIndiain 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 inIndia 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 Gangesis 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. In seeing ourselves
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