The Jeewan Jal team and all their hard work and thinking culminated in a four day exhibition, two play performances and 200 copies of our Comic Book: Panika Gunjanharu printed, folded and distributed to exhibition visitors and local children all in the heart of Patan where our project focused.
Here we share some of our museum exhibits and the text which accompanied them.
Museum of Water
Start talking about water in Nepal and within minutes you will likely
hear someone declare;
'Water is Life!'
We know how central water is to our lives, our health and wellbeing. It is important to us as individuals; cooking, washing, drinking and pooja, not least making up a huge percentage of our bodies.
Water also links us to one another. Our collective lives and our unique habits, beliefs and rituals feed into a larger story of geography, history, politics and the environment. So start exploring water and our relationships to it and we find ourselves led into all aspects of our lives. Water is indeed life!
नेपालमा पानीको बारेमा कुरा गर्न थाल्यो भने एकै क्षणमा कसै न कसैले यो घोषणा गर्छ:
'जल जीवन हो!'
हामीलाई थाह छ कि पानी हाम्रो जीवनमा कति महत्वपूर्ण छ भनेर। यो व्यक्तिगत रूपमा पनि हाम्रो लागि महत्त्वपूर्ण छ; खाना पकाउन, लुगा धुन, पिउन र पूजा गर्न, त्यसको माथि हाम्रो शरीर पनि पानी नै पानी ले भरिएको छ।
पानी हाम्रो समाज र मानवताको बिचको कडी हो। हामी सबैको जीवन, अद्वितीय बानी, विश्वास र संस्कार भूगोल, इतिहास, राजनीति र वातावरणमा पानीले एउटा ठूलो भूमिका खेल्छ । जब हामी पानी र त्यसको भूमिकालाई बुझ्न खोज्छौ तब हामीले पत्ता लगाउँछौ कि पानी हाम्रो जिन्दगीको सबै पक्षसंग मेल खान्छ । पानी साँच्चै जीवन हो!
This installation the ‘Museum of Water’ is based on an idea of British artist Amy Sharrocks. All visitors are invited to contribute to the museum during this exhibition water, which is special to them or holds a story. All these contributions show how connected we are to water and connected we all are to each other by water.
प्रस्तुत प्रदर्शनी “पानीको संग्रहालय” वेलायती कलाकार एमी शारोक्सको विचारमा आधारित छ | हामी पाल्नुहुने सबै महानुभावलाई आफ्नोतर्फ बाट प्रदर्शनी अवधिभरमा आफूलाई विशेष लागेका वा मन-छोएका पानी प्रदर्शनीलाई सहयोग गर्न आग्रह गर्छौं | प्राप्त सहयोगले हामीसबै पानी संग कति नजिक छौँ भन्ने देखाउंछ |
Water from Goa
This water is from Goa, India. My husband and I went to Bangalore to meet our daughter. I was very happy because it was my first time visit to Bangalore and Goa. I loved this place very much. When I see this water I feel the happiness, togetherness, fun, laughter that I shared with my family in new place. It brings back the memories of how waves of the ocean touched my feet and dragged me into the water. Those days sunbathing, playing with the waves, listening to the sound of water and seeing my family happy makes me wants to re live that moment once again. So this small portion of water is very close to my heart and it is very important to me.
यो पानी ईन्डियाको समुद्र(गोव)को हो । म र मेरो पती मेरो छोरी लाई भेट्न बाङ्ग्लोर गएको थिए ।म पहिलो पटक बाङ्ग्लोर र गोवा गको हु । यो पानी हेर्दा मलाई म उत आफ्नो परिवार सँग अनन्द ले हासेर पानी म खेल्दै गरेको स्मरन आउछ । आफ्नो छोरी सँग बिताएक स्मरन आउछ ।उता गएर बिताएक हरेक घडीको समझना आउछ । त्यसैले यो पानी मेरो जिन्दगी म अत्यन्तै मह्त्व्पूर्ण छ ।
Nuclease Free PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Water
"Nuclease free PCR" water. It is the water that we use to study the genetic elements of bacteria and humans. Ironically it is "dead water" without any nuclease...it has been purified. How we as humans have been able to manipulate everything is really amazing...sometimes for the better and more often than not for the worse.
Visitors were invited to write their prayers on the prayer wheel box.
We collectively decided what to do with some of the waste water bottles we had from the Jeewan Jal workshops. Ideas we had were to make a giant chain of bottles to trap litter in the river, to make kaleidoscopes, to try and create giant bacteria or plant holders. The idea of making prayer wheels was the one that felt most symbolic to us. We collected rubbish from the street and separated the different colours to put inside the bottles. It was important to us that the bottles would spin.
Here are some of the ways the participants interpret this piece.
“The problem with waste is the word waste itself and so I think if we use a product or something and we throw the wrappers we have to be responsible enough to dispose of it in a proper way so this is respecting everything and this is shown in this piece by showing what would be considered rubbish as something of value. “
“Prayer wheels are supposed to be holy and waste is the opposite of that and so using it is interesting. It is juxtaposing these concepts. Are we making it holy or contaminating the spiritual?”
“This is reflecting our society now. Nowadays people where they used to throw rubbish some people have cleaned and put an image of a God and have added slogans saying that people who throw rubbish are dogs or monkeys. This is so they wont make the area polluted. This is similar. We are trying to convert rubbish into something good. “
“The white border is neutral and the bottles are different cultures and people living together in harmony. This is a wish of mine. I do see this in actual society in Patan too. They all seem to know each other in Patan. In my community no one knows one another so well. I don’t talk to my neighbours. “
“We are not reflecting one religion here. We want to show a mix of different religions.”
“I feel like there is a disconnection between how we live and our spiritual values. This piece brings them together again and shows that the things are perhaps disconnected because it isn’t pleasing to me to see spiritual objects made out of these materials. “
“These materials represent life…lots of lives and stories from Patan. Every piece of litter was connected to someone and their life but was discarded without thought.“
Water Bottle Nag
We also decided to make a Nag (A spiritual snake god) from some of the other water bottles that we had collected through the course of our workshops. We could not store a jar of water in the workshop space and so we found it difficult not to create this waste despite our efforts to bring our own water bottles.
Patan Map of Care
One of the first activities the Jeewan Jal group did was to walk the streets of Patan. Some of the participants know central Patan well others less so and really only knew the main roads passing around the area. As we walked around we looked for instances of care. Where were people caring for the environment, themselves, and one another? We mapped the areas we had visited in clay although sadly it was not easy to care for our maps of care and these could not be exhibited. This map was made later. It uses materials found from behind Patan hospital. All the materials were once part of the hospital but were discarded during earthquake retrofitting of the building. It felt right to use these materials to create the new map of Patan and care.
“There are so many cares happening around but we don’t try to focus on them but if we focus on care we see so much of it but we don’t care about how the care is happening. It can be invisible.”
“We have always been associating care with gestures but this time when we went to Patan to find care we saw different kinds of care. Care comes in different signs and ways of doing things. Different materials living and non-living.”
“Caring is not only showing-off but it comes from within from our hearts.”
“It was useful to do this to think about care to water and to see people caring about water too and to think about this.”
“Patan is not only famous for historical and cultural things but it is also famous for social things.”
“It changed the view of how we see the things. Previously we used to see but mother carrying children but we never gave attention to it but now whenever we see we try to see every aspect and the microforms of care.”
“That day made me feel that Patan was beautiful. People have not lost their humanity.”
“These are broken bits from the hospital that related to care as well we are using things that are usually thrown. Care is to do something good. We are making something useful out of neglected stuff. We are showing care in this piece.”
Water Talks and Playing with Clay: Conversations between Jeewan Jal participants and Newar Women
“That day was something different. A very young generation got to meet with an older one and information passed was passed on”
“The stories, told by our parents and grandparents were retold and we became to know more about how much we were facilitated by water and how much it used to come to our houses without water machines and water pumps and the problems we have now.”
“Back in that time water came so easily and the comparison highlights the problem now. “
“We came to know that our water is related to every aspect of our life.”
“The women associated their stories with water and we got to know how much water is important in our life. We didn’t see the bits and pieces with how our mum manages water but we got to know that.”
Some of the conversation points from the women shared with the clay sculptures were:
"Now there is not so much discrimination, there are improvements but these are still feelings inside the people’s hearts."
"My aunt married a high caste boy and when she carried water to the house the mother in law poured all the water from the ‘gagri’ because she touched the ‘Gagri’ of the house. When she returned home, she was weeping we didn’t know why. She was 15 years old."
"Still there is a caste system, near stone tapes, when a ‘Kosain’ (lower caste) comes to take water, people of the community says not to touch anyone. The community want to keep the water for themselves."
"There was once a huge fight because someone poured the water from the ‘Gagri’ out because a lower caste person had touched it. Even in a time of water shortage."
About Making Water Spiritually Pure:
"We put the water on the roof top and if dew drops form on the water then it is considered pure and holy. This works only for 3-7 days."
About Making Sure People Water is not Wasted:
"I have been married for 28 years. I never knew that the water would dry, that the water would dry at Mangal Bazar!"
"Since it is mostly women who look after house, we should tell and prevent our family members from misusing water. Usually what happens is, while brushing our sons leave the water running. We can perhaps change that."
"looking at the current situation, it feels that within five-six years there won’t be a sign of water."
"What do you think has caused water sources drying out? I think it’s because of the increasing population size. We were few in the past. But now people from rural areas have started coming to Kathmandu. So a lot of people need water."
"That’s one thing. I think the other reason is the stone paved roads. It is not able to absorb rainwater. Actually not only rainwater but water, sewage coming out from our houses as well. they directly go to Bagmati nowadays. There is no way the land could absorb water. That is why wells are drying out as well."
About 'Non-Locals' and their Water Provision:
"What I found was, that nowadays instead of the caste issue there is discrimination between old local people and new migrant people. If we ask new migrants about their caste they say they are Shrestha or Chetri."
"Nowadays before anyone rents the landlord takes a copy of their citizenship card so that they feel safe about their rent coming through. They are well aware about the renter’s caste. In my Newar community we don’t allow low caste people to rent our house."
"it is hard to look after the tenants. They don’t live in one place for long. So how can they be taught. But also the landlord must be aware. s/he must learn proper way of distributing water in the house and must aware the tenants of the problem. We can have a class in a community for that. After that only we can bring change. Otherwise, people directly drink water. They don’t filter."
"If people do rent the landlords provide water for them but some landlords don’t give water at all, they use water for themselves and don’t care where their renters get water from."
Experiences of Water and Health:
"There is lots of suffering due to water. In Banglamukhi during the festival month of Bhatra the water comes from Silu, Gosaikunga (a sacred lake). Everyone bathes in the water and comes to collect the ‘Jal’ (sacred water) on the day of Janai Purnima. The water on this day cures diseases but nowadays the water comes but very little."
"in our locality, if anyone gets sick s/he is right away taken to a Diomaa (a woman with healing and future reading spiritual power).
Yes, that is also one in which people believe. First they go to a Diomaa and then only to a doctor."
"Has anyone in your family or friend been sick due to water? Um. I get sick quite often in March-April. due to water?
Yes, because of water. I usually carry my own water bottle. But may be because of not washing hands every now and then before eating causes me to get unwell. And then what happens is diarrhoea."
"Water flowing yearly is clean. But water flowing with interruptions in a year is not good for drinking."