For birds, temple bell doesn’t ring

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If the festival of lights - Deepavali - is believed to bring prosperity to millions of people in this country, the people of Koonthankulam village, in Tirunelveli district, eagerly await the arri­val of migratory water birds in November eve­ry year as they believe the winged visitors are harbingers of good rain. The droppings of the birds nesting in the village tank for about six months since November enrich the farms.

“Hence, bursting of fire crackers on Deepa­v­ali day has been strictly banned in our village,” said 55-year-old Ramas­u­n­dari of Koonthank­u­l­am, who added that even before the government declared Koonthank­u­l­a­m a bird sanctuary in 1994, the villagers, for about five generations, have been protecting the birds that come from countries like Siberia, Germany and Nigeria for nesting and hatching in the babul trees in the Koonthankulam and Kadankulam tanks that extend for about 129 hectares on the western side of Koonthankulam village.

The birds started arriving at Koonthan­k­ulam just a week before the commencement of the northeast monsoon this year, said Mr Pal Pandian, who has been appointed by the department of forest to monitor the nesting of the winged visitors.

Adding that around 1 lakh birds belonging to 203 species visit Koon­t­h­ankulam sanctuary ev­ery year, Mr Pandian, po­pularly known as the ‘bird man’ of Koon­t­h­a­n­kulam said pintail and spot billed duck from Siberia, comb duck from Nigeria, white stork fro­m Germany and common sandpiper from La­d­akh in Kashmir started arriving here since October.

The season will be at its best from December to March.

During these months, even the bell of the Perumal temple, located close to the tank, will not be sounded, as according to the temple priest, they revere the birds as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself.

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