'I walk from one point to another with a stick. Where the stick stops, there is water'

Finding water with a stick Thirsty Bengalurus water diviners doing brisk businessYouTube Screengrab/Zenrainman
news Thursday, May 05, 2016 - 17:25

As Bengaluru reels under the heat wave, it appears that some residents have turned to the controversial “water diviners” in pursuit of their water requirements.  

Water diviners are those who claim to have the ability to detect groundwater without the use of machines or modern science. According to a report, there are two dozen diviners operating in Karnataka. The methodology of the diviners has been something of a mystery as many of them use crude material like sticks, branches and coconuts to detect ground water where they can dig for wells.

TNM spoke to Muniyappa from Sarjapura, a rain water harvester who also claims to be a water-diviner, who says he has dug 2000 recharge wells so far.

Muniyappa is originally a labourer whose claim to fame is his water divining capability. “I got the skill from my father,” he says. However, when asked if it is a science that can be understood and learnt, he simply says, “Like I can’t do your work, you cannot do mine.”

Muniyappa and his family have been in the water divining business for 20-30 years. He calls it kaddi-shastra. ‘Kaddi’ in Kannada means ‘stick’. “[When people call me] I walk from one point to another with a stick. Where the stick stops, there is water,” he explains.

Once this happens, Muniyappa calls the rest of his clan – 10 labourers who are also his sons and members of his extended family – to dig the well. He added that he would not involve people outside his family in the process.

This year alone, the diviner claims to have dug 200 wells in areas like JP Nagar, Kengeri, Whitefield, Hebbal, Vartur and Sarjapura among others. But just how accurate is this inexplicable methodology?

“All these 200 wells have water. We don’t dig unless we know there is water,” he assures. He adds that he charges 30,000 to 40,000 for one such project.

We also spoke to Dr. DV Chavan, who owns Dragon Feng Shui – Geomancy Center of Excellence, which also provides the service of water divining. However, in his definition, ‘divining’ involves using instruments like Earth Magnetic Field meter and studying the texture of the soil to ascertain the availability of ground water.

When asked about the technique that the likes of Muniyappa use, he said, “This method is actually called ‘dowsing’ and is quite crude, with a success rate of merely 5-10%. And even if they are successful, they can’t make out the quality of the water.”

A preliminary search about ‘dowsing’ reveals that there are people claiming to be diviners of different materials – like metal and water – all over the world. And while studies have tried to understand it time and again, the results have not been conclusive. However, disputable theories attempting to explain the phenomenon do exist.

Meanwhile, Muniyappa’s confidence is only matched by his focus on business. He hopes that articles about him will get him more clients.

With inputs from Sahana Maddali

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