Connecting spiritually to climate action through my video art & rivers

For my latest video project I worked alongside the Hudson River near NYC to create a piece that inspires climate action from a place of connection. This post highlights my thought process and some content that inspired the video (set to be released in 2022). Here I cover topics surrounding ancient memory, fantastical beings, death, ancestors and mermaids.  

Throughout my spiritual evolution, I find that being near a river is inspiring, and grounding. Recently I moved closer to the Hudson River, or “Mahicantuck”, “the river that flows in two ways.” 

I regularly visit the river, almost as often as I used to visit my Biji when she was living in the physical world. 

I lay near the river, sing with the river, try my very best to listen to the river. I fantasize about jumping in, watching the boats float across with intense desire to be in one of them. 

I remember the rivers that I grew up swimming in and wonder, will I ever get to swim joyfully in the Hudson? 

My connection to rivers in my ancestral lineage is strong down to the translation of my parent’s birthplace Panjab,  “Panj” translating to 5, “ab” to river. The rivers are considered to be the soul of the land. My dad reminded me of a sakhi of Guru Nanak dev Ji the other day. Guru Nanak vanished into a river for 3 days, reappearing and speaking of oneness. Of course I thought he must be a mermaid, how fantastical. 

The last time I visited Panjab, I went to a river with my dad where the ashes of my ancestors and relatives were once scattered. We walked through the temple, the river being at the end. I saw two men carrying a rice bag, possibly filled with ashes. The sky was grey, the river was murky, plastic floating above. My dad mumbled “I don’t want my ashes here.”

I think of this memory often.

How can a river connect me to my ancestors? What will the state of the river look like when my ashes are scattered? 

When I look out into the Hudson, I think of home. Although the flow is different from the Yuba River, it’s still  a river connecting into one large ocean. I also think of the most ancient and fantastical sea creatures I can imagine: whales, mermaids, sea beings that are yet to be birthed. 

This is how I connect to the land here, through fantasizing with the river. 

I feel the past, present and future all at once. I think of climate change, I think of harmony, I think of joy, I think of unpolluted waters and all the stories that have passed through.

In my filmmaking process I meditated one day near the Hudson, asked for permission to film and then went to work. When I got home, I scanned a few aura photos that I had taken in 2017/18 at Magic Jewelry in Chinatown. I pieced them together in Premiere and had Melika score the film. 

My video “dear river” was birthed. 

I made “dear river” to commemorate my connection and future with the spirit of rivers.

Through this film I hope to inspire folks to lean into their spiritual connection to land. To cultivate harmony & a peaceful path forward. 

So this really feels like just the beginning of my relationship to rivers, although I have always been so drawn to them.  I wonder what I’ll find on this journey. What will my evolution look like as our world is impacted by climate change? How will I flow with certainty and clarity on my own and within the collective? How am I connected to climate action in my ancestral land, Panjab?

I’m so grateful to the Hudson for igniting my desire to connect with rivers again.I am so grateful for the original stewards of the river. May we continue to learn with open hearts and open minds

Thank you for reading.   

with love and warmth, 


ADDENDUM: 06/29/22

My vocal healing coach, Gretchen Retka shared a documentary titled SHIPIBO with me. It was very inspiring to see how connected the Shipibo people are with the Ucayali River in the Amazon rainforest in Peru. Their connection informs their relationship to art, healing and their ancestors and present life. The Shipibo people’s relationship to rivers reminded me of the current situation in Panjab. A panjabi artist late S1dhu M00$ew@l@ released a song SYL, mapping out a key issues connected to water justice in Panjab. I wasn’t able to fully make this link that Panjabi folks are water protectors till after watching the documentary. I now see how vital it is to maintain a relationship to rivers.  

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