The Magic of Matogi’s Murals
January 6, 2023

By Nuan Ning Teioh, 2022 Future Blue Youth Council member
The brick walls of the long-abandoned water temple in the Himalayan village of Matogi have been given a new life through 16-year-old Udayan Saha’s community project. His project’s success, which culminated in ‘Magical Matogi,’ a local Wall Mural Festival in late May 2022, was a long time coming. Early in the year, he had begun visiting local schools to engage in environmental education, informing fellow teenagers about the importance of the water cycle, and how it ties into every aspect of our lives.

His goal was simple but ingenious: transform the water temples, which had by then fallen into abandonment and disrepair, into thriving community centers that simultaneously uplifted his message of water conservation. By creating murals on the walls around a water temple in the Himalayan village of Matogi, Udayan aimed to highlight the community’s water heritage, the importance of the water cycle, and nature’s interconnectivity.
Udayan’s advocacy is very much sparked by his mother’s work as an architect. “I have been very much inspired by her approach,” he says. “She focuses on sustainable development, and working with nature.” As he has traveled alongside his mother to project sites in the mountain since he was a child, he says that the exposure has been instrumental in shaping his understanding of environmental issues. “It’s also taught me about what society needs to do to collectively preserve our planet.”
With this inspiration in mind, Udayan kicked off his project. Education was merely the start of this journey. After the local children understood the importance of the water cycle, they were tasked with coming up with mural designs, which Udayan encouraged by making it a competition.

Throughout the project, his village’s remoteness continued to be a hurdle toward the realization of some of his goals. On discussion calls with members of the Future Blue Youth Council, issues with internet connectivity kicked him off the call, making discussions difficult. In fact, a village-wide power outage once extinguished hopes of continuing the conversation altogether. At the Magical Matogi festival itself, the original goal was to livestream the process of the painting of the murals on YouTube to reach a wider, international community, but Wi-Fi difficulties forced him to compromise by taking videos and pictures instead.

It’s undoubtedly difficult to start any community project, let alone in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions and connectivity issues, but Udayan’s story is a testament to the almost magical capabilities of a determined young leader.
If you’re inspired, now’s the time to take the step to shape and save YOUR local bodies of water. In fact, Bow Seat’s Fellowship Grant Program might be the best place to start. Not only are there resources and toolkits for you to kickstart your program, but should financial difficulties be your biggest barrier toward creating change, Bow Seat is eager to fund dedicated projects from all over the world.

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The Magic of Matogi’s Murals

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