Water in Yamuna brings festivities to its banks
In the rush and bustle of life, one is quite liable to miss View Point, speeding along the road besides the Yamuna, in Agra. However, in the evening, one cannot help but notice this landmark, especially during the month of monsoon. The reason there is a huge crowd there: everyone wants to take a look at a pregnant Yamuna, a sight both rare and awe-inspiring.
“The ‘Yamuna Aarti’ has continued uninterrupted since April 1, 2015 and we are in fifth year without break. For most part of the year, the attendance remains slim but it multiplies manifold in the later part of the rainy season with water rising in the Yamuna and giving a glimpse of its glorious past, when it was not a drain lying neglected,” says Brij Khandelwal, the man who created ‘River Connect’ in 2015 to keep Agraites connected to the River Yamuna.
“The Yamuna or is not only a river of the Braj region but is symbol of our lifestyle, culture and heritage. Name any festival and it has a connection with the river and Agra citizens used to gather at the river bank to celebrate the occasion. For reasons best known to policy makers, our rivers are dying a slow death and flow like a drain for most part of the year,” complained Khandelwal.
River Connect has now become a movement and remains active all round the year. Sometimes, paper boats are floated in scanty water to remind about promises made to ply steamers in the Yamuna to connect Delhi with Agra. At other times, River Connect activists go for a ‘sand bath’ and rub the dry sand of Yamuna to draw attention towards the missing water in the Yamuna.
“We are not here to lodge agitations but organise ‘symbolic’ acts to highlight the plight of River Yamuna, which is in dire need of efforts to revive its glory. Agra has waited for decades to have the promised Agra Barrage but the name of the project has changed, not its fate. Even our celebrations, mostly on Sundays, are part of our efforts and citizens join us, giving strength to the movement with the common aim being to have water in the Yamuna,” Khandelwal claimed.
Recently, water was released in the Yamuna from Tajewala, Okhla and Gokul Barrage and this brought Agra denizens to View Point last Sunday. Swings were erected and those selling finger-food came, giving the entire scene a festive feel. With many bringing eatables to share with others, celebrations continued till late into the evening.
“As seen in the past at ghats of the Yamuna, the swings were brought to the river bank on Raksha Bandhan and we hope to continue the tradition of celebrating festivals on banks of the Yamuna,” said an optimistic activist.
Few even offered ‘chunri’ to the Yamuna, a tradition witnessed more at famous Vishram Ghat of river Yamuna in Mathura, where devotees from Gujarat reach and offer ‘chunri’ to Yamuna as mark of thanksgiving for wishes fulfilled. Citizens are now planning for occasions ahead, till water recedes and the Yamuna again gets reduced to a drain for most part of the year.