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When Tsunamika joined the UN for a mission

In Indian mythology, there is a god or a goddess for every element of the planet.

Published: 27th January 2022 06:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th January 2022 06:49 AM   |  A+A-

As part of the activities, students have done art installations and clothes line

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In Indian mythology, there is a god or a goddess for every element of the planet. Even the universe. But do you know who the goddess of the ocean is? “We have a river goddess, Ganga. But not one for the ocean,” notes Uma Prajapati of Upasana Design Studio, Auroville. It is this question that prompted her to build Tsunamika, the ocean goddess — an icon representing the ocean.

Uma started the project Tsunamika in 2005, after the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean ravaged the coastal communities. She mobilised traumatised fisherwomen in Auroville to become a part of an activity to help them get out of the fear. Soon, making hand-woven tiny dolls using upcycled cloth materials, a pair of scissors, and needle and thread became their livelihood. And Tsunamika became a beacon of hope and resilience for them. Now Tsunamika wants to protect the ocean, which she considers her home, and Uma is paving the way for that by building a narrative around ocean conservation by becoming a part of United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

A creative platform

After Uma was interviewed by the UN for having worked with the coastal community, for a panel in mid-2021, she found an opportunity to talk and share about the Tsunamika project. “I wrote a paper to the UN, and we were given a 90-minute slot to present. We wanted to show that the Tsunamika project is not just about women empowerment, but how a lot of resources like the government and NGOs were involved, and is a serious business as far as oceans are concerned,” she says. 

With the belief that the narrative of today will build the history for the future, Uma sent a message across to the design community in India. She has collaborated with 11 universities to conduct activities and involve students in creating something that will start a dialogue on ocean conservation. Once the third wave of the pandemic is under control, Uma wishes to travel across India to present her case to school students. A platform for creative conversation and incubation, this ocean mission has seen several entries in the form of art installations, clothes and accessory lines.

Empowering initiative

Tsunamika as an icon, Uma says, will be India’s gift to the world for ocean conservation, giving her sufficient reason to introduce Tsunamika to schoolchildren and help them befriend her. “The idea is not to accuse MNCs of dumping in the ocean, or the public of converting the ocean into a dump yard. Instead, this is a story of friendship, where one friend is asking her friends to help her get back home. Imagine a world where topics like ocean conservation become dinner-table conversations! That’s my goal,” she elaborates. 

The fact that this project is aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals for the planet offers her some leverage. This in turn, she hopes, empowers the entire coastal community. Hence, Uma is working on a proposal to go bigger and invite people with financial resources. Meanwhile, they have been having Zoom presentations and are creating educational kits along with  the Ocean Conservation Trust, UK. So, will you help Tsunamika claim her home back? For details, visit: tsunamika.org


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