ANNUAL THEATER FESTIVAL

Highlighting problems of shortage and pollution, Spring Daleans urge masses to save water
Call it ‘an elixir’ essential both for the living and the dead
 
While countries and states continue to spar over sharing of river waters, water pollution and shortages, causing plant and animal species to go extinct, and politicians being only interested in exploiting these issues for their vested interests, budding thespians from Spring Dale Senior School urged the masses to save water, without which both they and their descendants would have to suffer.
 
The event was the Annual Theatre Festival of Spring Dale Senior School, the Play – ‘Nadi – Life Line’, the venue – the school grounds. At least 1000 students of the Upper Primary and Middle School took part in this play to highlight the twin problems of water pollution and wastage, the depletion in ground water level and the resultant scarcity of water.
 
The concept of a parallel future has been highlighted with the hope that good sense shall prevail and humans shall be able to reverse the process of deterioration well in time. The play begins with a scene of a group of people stumbling onto one wasteland from another in the hope of finding water there for sustenance, but are appalled at being told that ‘the elixir’, which once was available in abundance, had been lost due to the imprudence of their ancestors.
 
They come across an Oracle, who, they believe, would lead them to a resource of water. Instead, the Oracle takes them on a visual journey back in time to enable them to see how the precious resource was once abundantly available, but their ancestors wasted and polluted the same, resulting in the depletion of its sources. 
 
Through the technique of narration, the play touches upon the origins of rivers like Ganges (Ganga), and Yamuna, their association with the existence of the human race, its religious beliefs and various plant and animal species. The play alludes to rivers of other regions including China and Babylon as well.
 
A special mention has been made of Punjab. Despite its distinction as ‘the land of five rivers’, the state is beset by problems of rampant water shortages and water pollution, caused by the wanton acts of the human beings. A grim future apparently stares Punjabis in the face in the absence of judiciousness on their part in the use of this precious natural resource.
 
Besides condemning the wastage caused by bathing under running tap water, washing of vehicles and spraying the courtyards with running water with the help of garden hoses and pipes, and dumping of sewage, garbage and chemical waste into the rivers, streams and natural drains, the play also alludes to the Hindu Mythology pertaining to the importance of rivers in obtaining salvation in the afterlife, to urge the masses to save water and prevent pollution.
 
Scenes 6 through 14 of the play are devoted to the story of King Bhagiratha, who was instrumental in bringing Ganga down on Earth for the salvation of the souls of his deceased ancestors, his penance, the ‘Akash Ganga’, the appearance of Vishnu and Brahma, Ganga’s descent to Earth, Shivji granting Ganga to Bhagiratha, and ‘Pitr Udhaar’.
 
That water pollution is an age-old problem has been depicted through the symbolism of ‘Kalia Naag’ and Lord Krishna’s triumph over him. At the same time the play also celebrates the model laid down by Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal and his voluntary work of cleaning and ‘resurrecting’ the Kali Bein without waiting for government intervention of any kind. The play observes that similar efforts could also restore the ‘Ganda Nala’ (a natural drain turned over the years into a sewage receptacle) in Amritsar.
 
The show also highlights the plight of the birds, animals and aquatic life caused by water pollution and scarcity. Mr Rajiv Kumar Sharma, Principal, Spring Dale Senior School, said that rivers have been considered a lifeline for the growth of civilizations, most of which came up along the river banks. “Most of these rivers are now under threat, particularly in areas where population growth and other developments continue to be disproportionate with civic and environmental planning and development,” he said.
 
He added that the play highlighted an interesting paradox that while on the one hand Indians deify their rivers like Ganga and Yamuna, on the other hand, they pollute the same with garbage, excreta and chemical wastes. “Such practices harm the ecosystem, which, besides the human race, supports the plant, bird, animal and aquatic life,” he said. Mr Sharma added that right from the conception of the theme, script writing, choreography, costumes, sets and properties, each aspect of the play was handled in-house without any professional support or outsourcing.
 
Dr Kirat Sandhu Cheema, Director, Spring Dale Senior School, and Mr Sahiljit Singh Sandhu, Chairman, Spring Dale Educational Society, said that the school is an advocate of environment-related issues without which humanity would be pushed to the brink of destruction. “We are consistent in our efforts to promote peace and environmental concerns and are training our students as well to love and sustain their planet and its environment through thoughtful acts,” they said.
 
Spring Dale Senior School