Jaldindi(जलदिंडी)-Unique movement for water literacy

I have talked about water, rivers, conservation, efforts of different organizations and people in this area, in the past on this blog. Recently, Pune witnessed Muthai Utsav also to spread awareness of river and its ecosystem. Today, I am going to talk about Jaldindi(जलदिंडी), which is unique movement initiated by Dr Vishwas Yevale.

Dindi(दिंडी) is a Marathi word meaning procession. The 700 year old warkari tradition in Maharashtra and Karnataka, where devotees throng to reach holy place of Pandharpur in the months of June/July every year. This pilgrimage happens in the forms of different dindis participating in this grand event. Two of the main dindis are from places like Alandi and Dehu. Likewise, Jaldindi aims do similar thing, but with difference which is, by river. The brainchild of Dr Vishwas Yevale, this dindi(rather jaldindi) is taking place every year right after Dasara festival for last 14-15 years now. The purpose behind this is study river ecosystem, record observations and help the organizations with the data to act upon it. The whole gang rides kayaks, rowing boats, sail boats, and sail all day long rivers on the way such as Pavana, Indrayani, Mula, Mutha, Bhima etc, and take rest for the nights, in the villages on the way. The distance of over 400 km by river, takes about 10-12 days to cross. This, now, has become people’s movement, and is perfect example of using tradition, cultural aspects to educate and spread awareness in society on water resources and its conservation.

Few years back, in 2001, I had visited Lakshdweep islands with organization called Pugmarks. Dr Vishwas Yevale was with us during that time. I distinctly remember our interaction with him. He introduced himself as doctor and later as boat/yatch expert, who along with his son had a hobby of sailing. I also remember he explaining the group about technical things such as rudder etc of yatch, or a sail boat, when we noticed a yatch on the sea shore on one of the islands in Lakshdweep. I also had experienced kayaking in the lagoons of Lakshdweep islands. Till that time I had never met anyone with experience with boats, except during my stay in the USA, I had had some opportunities with boats(specifically motor boats), and have seen and heard many of my friends and acquaintances there owning them or seriously into sailing etc. Many homes on the sea side towns, have parking for boat in front of their homes. Back in Pune, we, of course, have been hearing about boat club and special event on row boats called Regatta by College of Engineering Pune.

So when I learnt about he and his colleagues starting this experiment of Jaldindi, I was not surprised. This not only has helped to study the water and river ecosystem, generate water/river literacy among the people, but also has helped to promote rowing, sailing as a sport. Now it is up to the government authorities to enforce the laws and ensure that our rivers are not polluted by industries, “river-view” apartments, ensure that treated waste water is released into them. This will only save them from getting polluted.

Jaldindi now is running under their NGO called Jaldindi Pratishthan, you can check out more about it here. Feel free to write back on this to me.

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