Sana Iqbal

A Minute of...
Moving image
Ravi, Lahore, Pakistan

Ravi, also known as Irvati and Purushni in ancient history, is a transboundary river which originates in northwestern India, flirts for 50 miles along the border before devoting itself to Pakistan. It is said that part of the battle of the ten kings was fought on the river. Legend suggests that the foundation of the city of Lahore was laid down by Lava, son of Sita after she took refuge in Valmiki the sage’s ashram near the bank of Ravi. Only 200km away from Lahore, lies the remains of the Indus valley civilization, the city of Harappa, whose birth is too affiliated with Ravi.

In 1960, like all the other assets since partition of 1947, water too was finally divided. Under the Indus
Waters Treaty, Ravi along with two other rivers was allocated to India. Since then, locals blame the
neighboring country for the low water level in the ‘The river of Lahore’. A stream of it, which once
engulfed the colossal Lahore fort (built by Shah Jahan, Mughal emperor) has run completely dry and has now been replaced with cemented infrastructure.

The bearer of life is now on the verge of death because of the hefty amount of sewage and toxic
material being dumped into it on daily basis by factories in the outskirts of Lahore. Ravi, a mighty river, known for being eccentric and tough, witnessed and survived countless empires only to succumb to capitalism and man’s greediness.

The allure and history of Ravi and Kamran’s baradari still brings in a few visitors. Contaminated water
does not quench the thirst of locals anymore or give them an escape from Lahore’s ever-increasing
temperature but does provide a livelihood to some vendors who choose to work there. Along with boat ride services, food for both animals and humans, diyas/toy boat candles and rose petals are readily available for customers. An evening at Ravi, forces one to reflect on our history, of what was and what could have been. For this project, I located the pervious course of the river and found temporary puddles there, objects bought from the vendors from the current bank of Ravi were placed in or next to them. In two videos, two different sounds can be heard; one is the of location itself and second is of Ravi.

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