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Tulane University

Publication Date

Fall 2015


Overall, the intention of this study is to provide a bases for understanding how the livelihood of Himalayan women affects the health of the Ganga and vice versa. An apparent paradox between the destruction caused by development and one’s own spiritual and religious fulfillment may explain the diminishing quality of the Ganga. Through interviews with Garhwali women and observations of lifestyles along the Ganga, a concept of women’s interaction with water was determined. These perceptions and uses of water were compared to perspectives on degradation of the river. Pollution and water diversion projects serve as two of the largest struggles facing the Ganga. Through the course of several interviews, women expressed their worship of her waters, but with a withdrawn sense of spirituality. Many women acknowledge Ganga’s pollution and overcrowding during pilgrimage season, which altered their involvement with the Ganga. Water scarcity also change lifestyle habits. Furthermore, road construction connects urban centers with rural villages along the Ganga, which proves beneficial for some causes but also led to increased rates of migration. Generally, village women regard themselves to be healthy. Finally, the damming of the Ganga causes widespread alteration of the natural course of the river and displaced thousands of families. Overall, women’s reactions with their faith and access to water are infinitely tangled, and small changes can produce large disturbances.


Growth and Development | Women's Studies


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