Rattan Gujadhur

[Rattan Gujadhur] Demystifying Grand Bassin (or the Ganga Talao)

Mercredi 10 Juillet 2019

As we approach from Mare aux Vacoas sudden cool winds are our welcoming hosts, just like being received with open arms by a royal envoy.


As we approach from Mare aux Vacoas  sudden cool winds are our welcoming hosts, just like being received with open arms by a royal envoy. I recall days of deep drought in the country when the reservoir was leveled to such  an extent creating an intense level of panic for all, when old marks of what the water levels used to be, were alike to a great flood having in the past, hit the lake, and left indelible marks everywhere. A dry lake meant dry winds with no royal welcoming hosts, to welcome us. 

However, this time, during this current winter of 2019, the weather was cool and inviting, and the lake was at its peak capacity. One felt happy on the sheer view of this jovial bumpy abundance, but for how long. No one can fool anyone, since water is still wasted in vast amounts in Mauritius. Every dry drought season becomes a drama, a great deluge of infomercials are launched to warn the public to protect water. Pas gaspille dilo !

Conservation of water is absent in Mauritius. We Mauritians live day to day in much too comfortable a level, to be worried about this ‘one day scenario’ when these obvious resources will become scarce or indefinitely defunct. I digress. 

As we approach Sophie’s park, on the way to the junction to Plaine Champagne, the love the motherland grows in heaps and bounds. This park is booming with freshness and overgrowth, a picture of an elusive garden of Eden arises where moisture itself is the cover that makes this difference, where a minimum of human interference, makes this difference. Sophie’s park is a true explosion of plant diversity and health and it felt like being in a sanatorium for recovery. A mental peace directly connected to our minds courtesy of the world of ferns and creepers, of all sorts. These were our true anti-depressants. 

Then leaving Sophie’s park one slowly approaches the round about to the sacred lake, the great and immense Ganga Talao. Further south, one can actually cut through, to reach Tamarin via the exquisite drive-by through Chinese goyava (Goyave de Chine) fields, themselves a  stark reminder of our intense metissage and diversity. So much on the island has been brought here from afar, from our fruits to our souls.

Then suddenly as we turn into the direction of the sacred lake, the view is marred by two gory statues of Shiva and Durga, like two giant mammoth Godzillas waiting to flatten us at any moment. What wave of stupidity must have passed over the minds of the designers of such artistic monstrosities, to supposedly promote such a representations of the divine, what a total penury of creativity to raise such gargantuan symbols to remind us of our faithlessness or faithfulness.

The statue sizes simply and dramatically invade the privacy of the beautiful environment of the lake and its surroundings. Is it because we are faithless that we need to be reminded of our faith by life size Godzillas?

Like vestiges of old civilizations, we construct millions and millions of rupees worth of gigantic statues, to indelibly destroy the aesthetics of the place, for some obscure egoic political or egoic religions reasons. Some powerful politicos must have suddenly come up with the ‘brilliant’ idea ‘let’s once and for all hinduize the place, since this area is technically ‘hindu’’. There were no true environmental and aesthetical impact assessment to challenge them with the question, ‘why do we really need to?’. 

If Shiva is the divine breath of all breaths why do we need to see him come out of the ground like a Godzilla fixing his gaze at us. Would it not have been fair to keep the place as it were when the ancestors first battered through wild ferns and creepers, and dense forests, and emerged near the serene lake to shout out ‘this is the place, this is the place, where we the immigrants could be reminded of the gangotri’, where source meets source !

Preserving it with minimum environmental changes would have left Grand Bassin in the same jewel-like state that it really is.

Instead, the leaders of sabhas and federations, highly political in their fabric, the true reasons for a divided country by caste and creed, have amassed themselves around Grand Bassin like ‘termites’ attacking wood to each one a spot. To each one a ‘boute’.

The sacredness of the place has been scarred by a group of overzealous greedy people, interested to promote one agenda only ‘make grand bassin great again’. ‘Great’ in their minds being bigger, more intensively constructed, more symbolically stamped with signs of what some ‘want’ it to be.

They have missed the point of preservation of the austerity, and simplicity, of this spatial jewel, this delightful place that Ganga Talao could have been, it’s calming feeling, and attitude, it’s special history of tolerance and invitation to all others, whether Hindu or not.

Alas, Grand Bassin seems to have now become another BJP like grand project.

A propos de l'auteur : Rattan Gujadhur   left Mauritius for higher studies in the US in 1999. He has practiced in the Pharma and Biotech world for over 29 years and is a Dr in Chemistry. He remains deeply in love with Mauritius and has published reminiscences of Mauritius via a poetry collection and a novel 

Rédigé par Rattan Gujadhur le Mercredi 10 Juillet 2019