Monday, August 8, 2011

of a Naula

Naulas are the little depression springs that communities in Uttarakhand use to collect drinking water.
As Naulas go, the one on the left is a pretty typical one. Its located in Bageshwar district. As you see, the spring has been enclosed using attractive stone masonry. Two little lampholders guide passing travelers. The water is cool and clear. The cleanliness is not by accident. There are various signs painted on that request the users not to use soap within the spring or otherwise pollute it in any way.

Sadly, this desire to not pollute it is used to further oppression. There is a hamlet nearby where people of the scheduled caste live. They are not allowed to use this spring, though it is close to their hamlet. Instead, they must use one a kilometre away. In the summer, their spring dries up. Then they are 'generously' given water from this spring. Provided of course, that they do not defile it by entering the premises. And so, they are not allowed to help themselves to the water. Instead a brahman must pour out the water into their pots from a height. What if there is no brahman present, you ask? well then, they are expected to wait till one such person comes along.

And that is the image that has been haunting me since I returned. People patiently waiting beside a full pool of clean water, but unable to use it. 

2 comments:

Bharathi said...

That is life! Joy and Sorrow together..Do we celebrate the villagers'efforts at water conservation or feel dejected by casteism? Hope the latter practice changes..

nadi said...

the images that haunt you teach us so much...