Arati Kumar-Rao on the Shifting Embrace of the Ganga River
This Week from the Emergence Magazine Podcast
Emergence Magazine is an online publication with annual print edition exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. As we experience the desecration of our lands and waters, the extinguishing of species, and a loss of sacred connection to the Earth, we look to emerging stories. Our podcast features exclusive interviews, narrated essays, stories and more.
Visiting West Bengal during monsoon season, writer and photographer Arati Kumar-Rao bears witness to all that is formed and all that is destroyed in the swell and retreat of the Ganga. Struck by the immense power of the ancient river—a deity alive and accessible, benevolent and merciless—she wonders how human activity will continue to both affect and be determined by the will of its waters. As the Ganga transforms the lay of the land, shifting modern-day political boundaries, agricultural settlements, and historical constraints on its movement, Arati considers the confluence of the sacred and the profane.
Arati Kumar-Rao is a National Geographic Explorer and an independent environmental photographer, writer, and artist who documents ecological degradation. She chronicles South Asia’s changing landscapes and climate and their effect on livelihoods and biodiversity. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The Hindu, #Dysturb, The Guardian, BBC Outside Source, Hindustan Times, and Mint.