Totally Thames 2014

The Totally Thames Festival is scheduled through September and is organised by the Thames Festival Trust, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, London. The website begins with the catch words: “30 days, 42 miles, 100+ events, 1 river…”

River Thames has historically been one of the most important waterways in England, and according to some historians, the reason why the Romans built London where they did. If that were indeed true, it would be fitting, albeit pagan, to pay tribute to the river. The name pre-dates the Romans though and supposedly comes from the Celtic ‘ Tamesas/Tamesis/Tamesa’ meaning dark. (Incidentally, the word is incredibly similar to the Sanskrit ‘Tamas’, also meaning darkness). Worshipping rivers and water is not unusual to civilisations that developed along the waterfront. The Celts in that sense, were very similar to Hindus, and water/rivers were also symbolic of fertility and often seen as possessing feminine characteristics. 

The Totally Thames festival has a range of exciting activities that range from the ecosystem around the river, the history, its contribution to economic development to a whole range of arts and cultural events. The detailed schedule can be seen here and begins on September 1 with the Big Thames Tidy

With the rich culture and heritage that rivers in India possess, this provides a fantastic opportunity if we were to think of replicating the effort and create vibrant centres within cities. For instance, the banks of the river Adyar in Chennai or river Mithi in Mumbai could easily be used in a similar fashion. In the meanwhile, I hope to spend my time volunteering and immersing myself in the Totally Thames experience.

Map from 1840

Map of Thames and London from 1840. Source:

thames locks

Locks and weirs on the river Thames. Source of image: These have been constructed to prevent flooding and control the tide. Dick Francis referred to these in his book “Blood Sport”