The Mekong River is the world’s 6th largest river. The river rises in Tibet, and flows through Yunnan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea.
Like all other large rivers the Mekong has nourished a great civilisation, which in this case for centuries has been centered around Buddhism. Indeed as we can see from the lands it flows through, if any river deserves to be designated as the heart of the Buddhist world today, it is this one.
Chinese television’s (CCTV) Channel 9, in collaboration with the TV stations in all the other countries, has just published a 20-part series in English which examines life along the river’s course, and over the next few weeks I will be showing some of the more relevant of the documentaries here.
The first programme in the series gives an overview of the peoples, cultures and environment that are found along the river, and the part it plays in their lives.
It shows how the river rises in Tibet under one name, is joined by tributaries along the way, and changes its name according to the local language. The two main names appear to be the Lancang in China, and the Mekong (Mae Khong in Thai and Laotian, Khong from Sanksrit Ganga and Mae meaning Mother).
It is good to see such sympathetic handling from the Chinese (and some other country’s) Television, and a renewed appreciation of their ancient Buddhist cultures, which bodes well for the future. If they repeat it often enough, it may become a mainstream idea, and one that is adhered to by policy.
The original title of the series is Nourished by the Same River, which seemed to me to be less than explicit, so here I have renamed it Nourished by the Mekong River. I have made playlists for all 20 episodes, and those who would like to know more about the river and the life along it, can follow up from the playlists.
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