A thousand Nagdis (Respond to this article at http://www.therai.org.uk/at/debate)


  • Ann Grodzins Gold,

    1. Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Professor of Anthropology at Syracuse University. Gold's research in North India has focused on pilgrimage, gender, expressive traditions, environmental history, and most recently landscape and identity in a provincial market town. Her email is aggold@syr.edu.
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  • Bhoju Ram Gujar

    1. Headmaster of a government middle school in Rajasthan. He has collaborated on multiple research projects focused on Rajasthan's regional culture and is co-author with Ann Grodzins Gold of In the time of trees and sorrows: Nature, power and memory in Rajasthan (Duke University Press, 2002), which in 2004 was awarded the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. His email is bhojuramgujar@gmail.com.
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A tributary of the Banas, the Nagdi River flows through the old market town of Jahazpur in Bhilwara District, Rajasthan. Unlike India's major sacred waterways such as the Ganga and the Yamuna which have the status of goddesses, the Nagdi was never deified. However, it figures in Jahazpur's origin legend, reaching back to the epic Mahabharata. Due to a complex convergence of conditions unique to this place but resonant with ecological tragedies the world over, the Nagdi's flow has dwindled and its waters are badly polluted. Everyone in Jahazpur with whom the authors spoke during fieldwork in 2010–11 mourned the end of their river. Once proud of the Nagdi's beauty and miraculous properties, Jahazpur residents were aware of having lost an important part of their environmental and cultural heritage. This article explores the complex causalities of the Nagdi's deterioration and emergent possibilities for its restoration.