Film Explores Religious Ritual At Jamaica Bay

Staff Writer

An ongoing documentary shoot about Jamaica Bay unearthed another story that was also converted to a movie.

The filmmakers of the in-progress documentary about Jamaica Bay will premier a short film, called “The Divine Waters of Jamaica Bay” about the Indo-Caribbean community and how it uses the bay for religious rituals.

The movie follows a group of individuals who travel to the Bay to perform the Hindu ritual of Puja, a ceremony praying to various deities in the Hindu religion, including Shiva, one of the most well-known gods in that religion.

Dan Hendrick, the creator of the Jamaica Bay Lives documentary who also worked on the short film, said their goals for the film are to promote Jamaica Bay and to begin a discussion of balancing religious practice with concerns about the environment.

One item the movie explores, Hendrick said, is some issues that have emerged as a result of the ritual. Part of the ceremony is that they leave materials on the water as an offering to the gods they pray to. Hendrick said the Parks Dept. has told them in the past not to leave any items on the beach as it violates the agency’s rules.

According to Hendrick, while some have decided to take the items they would leave behind, others have resisted because they want to keep the tradition.

Hendrick said he hopes the movie shows the many people that use the Bay and how unique it is to New York.
“It will really show how diverse Jamaica Bay is,” he said.

The movie will be shown on June 22 at Shri Trimurti Bhavan, which is located at 101-18 97 Ave. in Ozone Park. The free event will begin at 1:30 p.m.

For more information, email or call either of the following numbers (718) 848-8831 and (917) 683-8261.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127,, or @luisgronda.