kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora


Get a sneak peek of Amarnath Ravva’s American Canyon, as featured in The Revealer, reviewer of religion and media!

JULY 23, 2003. 6:32 AM > 00:00:00:00

Ravi yells, don’t go too far into the water—it’s deep and the stones are slippery! At the top of the steps, he is looking through the viewfinder of the video camera. He works in Pamban at a hydroelectric project and was sent to help me because I don’t know Tamil, the language spoken on this island off the coast; Ravi, who grew up in Andhra Pradesh, knows both Tamil and Telugu. I stop two steps from the edge and place my glasses on a dry patch of stone. The first step is green, from algae, and slides under my foot. I steady myself. The mandapam at the center of the tank bears the eroding couplets of the Thirukkural above the water.



The water stains the edge of my towel green. I splash it three times at my face. There is no way I will put my head under this water. There isn’t even a lotus flower in the tank. I know millions of Hindus have done this before me. Here. At this very tank. Their dirt floats before it settles. I turn around to see Ravi approach the water’s edge. He gestures for me to immerse myself. I take another step further down, close my eyes, and dunk my head. I do this three times just because of tradition, and one more time, just in case.


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