rahelhegnauer

To pour water from the Ganges into the river Inn

India/Switzerland, 2011

 

Center for contemporary art Nairs (former sanitarium now artist-in-residency, Scuol, Switzerland).

When I returned from India last Mai I had 2 litres of Ganges water in my main luggage (more is not allowed to take into airplanes).

The center for contemporary art Nairs where the artist residency is situated is part of a former sanitarium Tarasp from the second half of the 19th century. It is placed directly at the bank of the river Inn. On the opposite side of the river is the former drinking hall (Trinkhalle Tarasp) where people used to come (and still do) to drink of 3 different mineral springs containing health supporting minerals.
In Haridwar (one of the holiest places in India) north of Delhi where I took the water from thousands of Hindu pilgrims daily take their bath in the holy river. Every evening at 7 the pilgrims assemble and sing the evening prayer (Aarti) to pay tribute to the river goddess Ganga. Then small boats made of leaves decorated with flowers and lit up with a candle are handed over to the river accompagnied by their prayers and wishes.
A religious Hindu at least once in his life time should take a bath in the water of Ganga to wash off his sins. For the ones who cannot do the journey thousands of white plastic bottles in different sizes are sold so the pilgrims can take the water home to their people.
Both places Haridwar and Nairs attract the people to come and to perform rituals - whether it is of religious or health reasons - to become a better person.

With less than 1 drop per minute I let the Ganges water drop into the river Inn.