7 kms Human Chain on May 20 to Celebrate #MhadeiAmchiMai


~Open call to artists, musicians, performers, members of creative communities and people of Goa to perform, dance, paint and create during the festival~

~ On May 20, 2023 at 4.00PM a human prayer chain will be formed along the banks of the river, extending from the end of Miramar Beach to the Santa Monica jetty in Panaji, a distance of seven kms~

~Attendees are urged to wear clothes of white and blue colour — representing the shades of the river~

Panaji, May 2023 – The fate of Goa’s beloved Mhadei river, a lifeline for its people and ecosystems, is facing significant peril in wake of the ongoing attempts to divert water from its basin by a neighbouring state.

In response, the Earthivist Collective, in association with the Goa Heritage Action Group (GHAG) and the Save Mhadei Save Goa Front is calling on Mhadei’s children to become her Guardians (Rakhondar) by joining a community engagement festival called ‘Mhadei Amchi Mai’, a creative celebration of the intrinsic and critical relation between the river, the land and its people.

This festival aims to bring concerned people together to pray for the wellbeing of the river and to raise awareness of the importance of preserving its vital freshwater and biodiversity.

“On May 20, 2023 at 4.00PM a human prayer chain will be formed along the banks of the river, extending from the end of Miramar Beach to the Santa Monica jetty in Panaji, a distance of seven kms. This event will offer people from all over Goa an opportunity to come together and connect with the river, its history and its soul. The Earthivist Collective, GHAG and the Save Mhadei Save Goa Front are calling on everyone across the State of Goa , their friends and their family to join in this festival and show their support for this vital ecosystem,” said Heta Pandit, historian, author, independent researcher and founding member of GHAG.

Nearly 7000 persons are expected to participate in the seven kms-long human chain, the organisers said. Attendees are urged to wear clothes with white and blue colour — representing the shades of the river — and carry a blue or white scarf along.

The organisers have also urged individuals from the creative community – musicians, dancers, creative story tellers, artists to join the creative celebration by performing along the human chain site. Eminent personalities Dr. Oscar Rebello, Fr Bolmax, Hema Sardesai, Patricia Pinto, Prof Dr Isabel Santa Rita Vaz, Claude Alvares, Norma Alvares, Rajendra Kerkar and Pournima Kerkar will join the movement on 20th May, 2023.

Added interdisciplinary artist and curator Miriam Koshy, founding member of the Earthivist Collective, “The Earthivist Collective’s intention is to bring together people from all talukas of Goa , citizen groups concerned about Mhadei , along with people from all walks of life , especially those whose livelihoods would directly be impacted , to stand together as one voice . To show their support for the festival, the Collective is also calling upon artists to create art interventions, in the form of paintings, poems, songs, installations, performances and sand drawings, that celebrate and pray for the river, during the human chain formation at Miramar Beach and the six other nodal points along the banks of Mandovi in Panaji. Our appeal to those who may not be able to make it to the festival on the 20th, is that they stand together wherever they might be, along the banks of our beloved river and add to the collective energy “.

Act for Goa, UrbanSketchers Goa, Plantwalk Goa, Goa Bird Conservation Network, Sunday Evening Quiz Club and That Book Store are a few of the groups which have come onboard to participate in the festival. Environmental Architect, Elsa Fernandes, President of Khazan Society of Goa, who has also been actively involved in spreading awareness regarding the impact of the diversion, will also be mobilising the farming community to come together in solidarity. “Our hands, our hearts, our thoughts, together Goa is enough to serve and protect our mai Mhadei”, says Elsa.

The Mhadei river not only nurtures the people of Goa but also carries their history and soul in its rippling waters. It nourishes an immense biodiversity across the land, carrying vital water and nutrients to the floodplains and agricultural lands and the potable water that keeps people alive. Altering the course and headwaters of the river, combined with climate change, dams and pollution, would lead to not just water scarcity and food insecurity but loss of life and livelihood directly affecting six of the twelve talukas.

“For me the river Mhadei, is always an incarnation of the great mother, who besides quenching my thirst, providing necessary nourishment, helps me to enjoy the peace of mind and soul, through her perennial natural flow, that emerges from the pristine forests of the Western Ghats. From childhood, the river has been instrumental in shaping my identity, culture that I have inherited since ages,” says noted environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, while urging Goans to attend the human prayer chain in large numbers.

“The human chain of thousands of concerned Goans to express their solidarity with the friends of Save Mhadei movement is an ideal move. Mhadei is the lifeline of Goans. This is also a struggle to safeguard our identity. We need to save her from being diverted. All awakened Goemkars need to support this cause”, urged Bhai Damodar Mauzo, Jnanpith awardee and celebrated author.

“Not just Goans, but every one in India needs to know what is being planned for destroying another great river, Goa’s very own Madei. The diversion of Madei waters for irrigated farming in Karnataka is one more unwarranted and unjustified slaughter of the life of another natural river which will soon lose its life, if present plans are allowed. Madei belongs to India as well, so besides Goans, Indians as a whole must protest. Why can’t we let nature be, why must we continue to torture nature beyond repair in this fashion? Do we believe there will be future generations and that they need to see rivers flowing, as we have done in our lifetimes?”, asked Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation.

“We hope to see everyone there with their friends and their family, joining hands to pray for the wellbeing of their beloved Mhadei. Together, they can make a difference and preserve the river for future generations,” says historian and heritage activist Prajal Sakhardande.

The Earthivist Collective believes that by working together, Mhadei’s children can ensure that the river continues to be a source of life, history and soul for generations to come.

Follow @earthivistcollective and @goaheritage on social media platforms for updates