Makar Sankranti festivities have concluded on a sombre note. The festival—which is dedicated to the Sun God and marks the end of winters and the onset of spring—has left bird lovers and conservationists heartbroken. Several tragic pictures of the birds that got injured or killed during the kite flying activities are being widely shared online.
The festival marks the transit of the Sun from the Southern Hemisphere to the north as the days get longer than the nights. Adding “charm” to the occasion, colourful kites are flown across western Indian states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and even north-western state of Rajasthan. Even states like Telangana organised an international kite festival this time which saw participation from almost twenty countries. The festival was inaugurated by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
Ironically, the appeals of bird rescuers yet again fell on deaf ears. Dr Rina Dev, a Mumbai based avian endoscopy expert, took to Facebook and posted several pictures of the blood smeared birds. “We continue to see birds coming in being injured by glass coated manjah, to our surprise had this beautiful seagull brought in by a good samaratian. This sea gull was found far far away from a location that you would have generally spotted him. He was found in the middle of a residential area,” she wrote in a moving post, adding that “(It) shows how these birds lose their way to their homes and are unable to fly back to their families. If you do come across such birds, please report them to your nearest NGO or avian vet.”
Similarly, a Twitter user, @biditabag, posted a picture of a parrot killed by the string of a kite. The picture shows the dead bird perched on a tree branch hanging from the manja of a kite.
“We hang our head in shame. This hard hitting image has been shared by Bhavik Thaker, titled "kaypo che?". Thanks for aptly showcasing the plight of these beautiful creatures. Unfortunately, hundreds of birds loose their life during kite festival. stop using chinese/manja threads,” she wrote.
A symbolic term for victory shot, that implies that one has just cut the opponents kite, Kaypo Che (or Kai Po Che), is commonly used while flying kites in Gujarat.
Notably, the incidents of birds getting injured during the kite flying festival around Makar Sankranti, also made headlines in several states on Wednesday. “Uttarayan in Ahmedabad ended up cutting short the flight of 2400 birds,” DNA reported. Quoting the figures for the bird injuries collated as part of the “Karuna Abhiyan” of the state government, the report stated that “in all, 1500 injuries were reported on January 15 while 900 such cases were reported on January 14.”
It added that 2019 saw almost 33 percent rise in injuries.
As conservationists mourned the loss of avian life, a Twitter user, @TheVishalSonara, had this to say: “Birds are the permanent kites that fly in the sky, so save them to enjoy the true spirit of the nature. #SaveBirds #SaveNature — celebrating Uttarayan.”