In honor of World Water Day, award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Haik Kocharian, is graciously releasing, “Blessed by Water,”…

By Susan Barnett, Founder, Faiths for Safe Water |

Water is the single symbol shared by every religion. It cleanses, purifies and sanctifies in ceremonies around the world. It’s no surprise religions have come to honor water. Without it, life cannot survive.

In honor of World Water Day, award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Haik Kocharian, is graciously releasing, “Blessed by Water,” rare images of water in tradition, ceremony and spirituality as celebrated by the Christian Orthodox community in Ethiopia, considered one of the cradles of Christianity.

Traveling with African Services Committee, Haik photographed one of the most celebrated festivals on the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar, Timket (Epiphany), honoring Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Kocharian’s photographs are witness to people gathered under the blessing of water.

Though attended by tens of thousands in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, Haik’s photos capture an intimate, spiritually charged view of worshipers in states of trance and spiritual connection as they are dampened by water sprayed from towering pipes. The water impacts individually, but imparts a sense of community. We hope you take a quiet moment on this World Water Day to enjoy Blessed by Water.

Describing his unique access, Haik says, “I never interfere with people at the moment I photograph them. I have to have a nonexistent energy. Other than offering a smile, which goes a long way.”

A smile does go a long way. It’s how a young American named Jordan came to bond with a playful, full-of-laughter nine-year-old, when she spent a week volunteering at a medical clinic in the impoverished outskirts of Honduras’ capital city. Her view of the power of water is very different from the ceremonial experience.

The boy had come to the health clinic for an infection that had spread to his left eye. The medical team diagnosed what’s called a Neglected Tropical Disease. NTDs are a grouping of diseases that cause anything from painful scarring and blindness to death; they are very widespread throughout the poorest parts of the world, impacting 1.4 billion people, every year, 500 million are children. But for this little boy, the diagnosis was good!

Today is World Water Day: #blue4water

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