The Sacred Element Of Water – A tribute to Avan Ardivisur Banu on the occasion of Avan Parabh on 24th March

Tomorrow, 24th March marks Avan-Nu-Parabh – a celebration of the sacred element of water, with Avan Ardivisur Banu as its presiding deity. Water is a sacred element in almost every religion and even today, higher liturgical ceremonies require water. Life itself began with the single-cell amoeba in water from where it evolved over several millenniums into human beings according to Darwin’s theory of evolution. All great civilizations began on the banks of huge water-bodies and rivers, like the Egyptian on the river Nile, the Indus Valley Civilization on river Indus, and the Babylonian Civilization on river Euphrates, amongst others.

In primitive cultures, like the Red-Indians and the Maoris, water was not merely an element but a Divine entity. In Zoroastrianism, water is Yazadi-Shakti – just like fire.

I have been to New Zealand and seen from the tip of its northern-most island (where there is a hill) the distinct blue and green waters of two oceans merging. The Maoris call it a sacred land in their language, and have great reverence for these waters. The isle is rooted in the rhythms of the earth but made even more sensitive by being washed on every side by sky and sea. In Nature, there’s a dynamic relationship between each drop of water in the air, in oceans and everything that happens everywhere.

Planetary currents move vast air and ocean masses about, redistributing warmth and life, but weather-forecasts travel very rapidly through these waters. Water particles are set in motion on the ocean-beds, going out as strong current activities, spreading agitation in surface waves and carrying weather information to every distant shore, so much so, that when tropical waves churn up the South Pacific, word of the disturbance soon goes out as turbulence, that dissolves in a thunder on a distant beach. There are no secrets in the water kingdom.

In addition, each atmospheric pool and ocean basin has its own period of oscillation, which accurately reflects events taking place elsewhere. Each time the moon is full, tides send surf leaping over shores, at times forming a lagoon. When mankind respects Nature and its element of water, there are regular monsoons, gentle rivers and calm oceans, but when nature is disrespected, ecological imbalance causes a fury from this life-giving element. When life-forms, habitats and water masses are tampered with, nature retaliates by either surplus or scarcity of water.

The element of water is highly sensitive and can be easily transformed from solid ice to hot liquid or gas or vapours. It is the most vital element for life, since all life starts in water. This is why, when NASA searches for life on other planets, it searches for signs of water. Seventy percent of our earth is covered with water, which can be consumed directly or indirectly, through the food chain.

Water is an element having great healing and cleaning properties. It also carries oxygen which sustains life. Water bodies are the natural habitat of fish, flora and fauna species, which help to maintain a proper ecological-balance. When there is no respect for it, it causes havoc like floods, tsunamis, heavy monsoons and inundated rivers. In Mumbai, we have witnessed disrupted traffic, stranded people, loss of innocent lives and crores of property damaged. The supreme irony of it all is that, even with so much water around, there  is acute crisis of water in so many areas. Municipal taps in certain areas do not have flow for more than 20 to 30 minutes and often go dry! Then again, waterlogged areas become breeding ground for so many water-borne diseases.

Several religions have great reverence for water. They also use it in several purifying ceremonies. When Maories of New Zealand go fishing, they pour seawater over their face with ritualistic prayer, wishing peace on the oceans of the world and saying a prayer for the spirits of the fish and their ancestor-fishermen. Since water is denser than air, they believe their prayers will be carried far and wide by underwater currents. The underwater world is far from silent. It has Divine intelligence. Let us respect it because Nature is very benevolent and kind but tolerant only up to a point. The great Atlantis civilization misused and insulted the sacredness of water and was destroyed by the element of water itself. The entire civilization drowned in water.

Today, our society is dumping plastic bags and waste in water. Misguided Parsis throw coconut, dar-ni-pori, flowers etc. in the name of religion. No religion promotes pollution. As it is today, water on planet Earth is depleting at an alarming rate. We are sitting on a time bomb and if we don’t respect natural elements, including forests and water, extinction is certain.

Ruby Lilaowala

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