A River on Shoulders: Circa 1823, 1858, and 2017 AD in Haridwar

A British portrait artist during July 2017 while staying at 365 Haridwar , the international artist residency programme at AZIMVTH Ashram, on the banks of Ganges and foothills of Himalayas, India made and gifted the following portrait.


Frederic Shoberl, another British writer and illustrator, had the following illustration of Kanwar pilgrimage in his book titled ‘The World In Miniature: Hindoostan’ Vol II published in 1827.


Untitled - Copy

Shoberl writes,

“The appellation of Nemessoura-Caori, or Cavadi, is given to women who make a vow to carry water from the Ganges to Nemessourin, a celebrated pagoda at Cape Comorin, dedicated to Sheeva. This penance is considered as one of the most efficacious for the remission of sins.

Women of the superior castes never perform this pilgrimage in person, but pay considerable sums to substitutes. The opposite plate represents a Nemessoura-Cavadi. The vessels containing the sacred water are set on a kind of mats, fastened by four sticks, in the manner of scales, to each end of a pole, which she carries on her shoulder.

The Hindoos believe that the idol in the temple of Nemessourin was brought by the god Hanooman from the Ganges, by command of Rama; and that the tank which is in the temple was made by Vishnu, with his own hands. The devout go thither on pilgrimage from distant countries: but to render this act meritorious, the pilgrim must previously visit the banks of the Ganges, lie on the ground and fast during the journey, and arrive laden with water from that river to bathe the idol.

The Cashi-Caori, or Cavadi, are a class of Pandarons, who perform the same kind of pilgrimage, with water from the Ganges to Cashi. This water, after being thrown over the idol, is collected and distributed among the devout, by whom it is most religiously preserved. When a sick person is at the point of death, a few drops of it are poured into his mouth and upon head.

The wealthy inhabitants of Malabar employ people to bring them water from the Ganges, which is always received with extraordinary ceremony. To prove that the water was really brought from the sacred river, the bearers take the precaution to obtain a certificate to that effect from the officer of the place, who, moreover, seals the vessel into which it is put, with his seal. Every man, without exception, may be a carrier of Ganges water; for which purpose he need not either be Tadin, Pandaron, or Yogee.”

In 1858, British Robert Montgomery Martin and Emma Roberts in their book titled ‘The Indian Empire Illustrated’ had a beautiful engraving in the book that depicted a man carrying Ganges water in Kanwar.

This year in 2017, Stanford University Press, USA, published a book titled ‘Uprising of the Fools: Pilgrimage as Moral Protest in Contemporary India’. Its written by Vikash Singh.

More information is at the following links within AZIMVTH website.