NEW YORK, U.S., June 20, 2014 (New York Daily News): Some beach goers worship more than the sun along the shores of Jamaica Bay during the summer. Hindu pilgrims take to the beaches to perform Puja rituals using flowers, coconuts and fruit as offerings designed to honor and respect nature. But detritus from ceremonies sometimes washes up on shore, posing a threat to the delicate ecosystem and fueling a decades-old rift between the pilgrims and the people who safeguard the bay.
"This is a beautiful practice if it is done properly -- it's not being pagan or barbaric," said Kamini Doobay, a 25-year-old medical student from Queens who is helping lead a community meeting on Sunday in Ozone Park, hoping to get both sides to air their concerns in candid, constructive discussion. Doobay is part of Sadhana, a group of young Hindus trying to promote better communication between the National Park Service, which takes care of the bay, and members of the Indo-Caribbean community.
Filmmaker Dan Hendrick, who is working on a documentary about Jamaica Bay, was so intrigued by the issue that he produced a short, "The Divine Waters of Jamaica Bay," featuring Doobay. It will be screened during the community meeting. "The surprising diversity of Jamaica Bay isn't limited to wildlife," said Hendrick. "Our goal with this film is to build bridges between communities, move beyond outward appearances and start a dialogue about how we can all work together for a cleaner and healthier Jamaica Bay."