In a few days, most parts of India will start gearing up for Diwali with lamps, lanterns, sweets and firecrackers. Most parts, but not the towns of Kollukudipatti and Singampunari in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. These towns, rather than bursting colourful crackers, will marvel at the colours of exotic birds that nest in the villages as winter arrives.
This won’t be the first year that the villagers will refrain from buying any firecrackers either. It is a tradition! A forest official in Kollukudipatti, said, “I’m 47, and all these years, I’ve never seen my people burst crackers inside our village.” According to a district forest officer, Sivaganga, endangered species like Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Flamingos, fly to the Southern Indian state in the winter months.
These migratory birds fly all the way from Northern India, Siberia and New Zealand right around the time of Diwali. As loud crackers burst in the skies, even we humans take shelter inside our houses and cover up our ears. The tradition or more accurately, the abandonment of tradition by the villages, started about 30 years ago when the locals observed how the fleeting enjoyment was causing trauma to the innocent birds.