This year too, Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, would be noiseless at Kollukudipatti, which houses Vettankudi bird sanctuary, being flocked by hundreds of winter migratory birds and indigenous endangered species for several decades.
Residents of Vettankudi, Kollukudipatti, Krishnapuram and Iyyapatti had been saying a strict ‘no’ to crackers ever since birds started visiting the sanctuary in the early 1960s for nesting and breeding. The sanctuary had been the preferred breeding habitat for the winged visitors – mostly from European and north Asian countries.
People of these villages, including children, had been desisting from bursting crackers even during temple festivals and for other events such as weddings and funeral processions. Crackers never figure in the budget for Deepavali and children too had no qualms about it, says S Sudhakar, 36, a resident of Kollukudipatti.
Children would confine themselves to ‘kambi mathappu’ and avoided even ‘buz vaanam’ (flower pot), he says. This year they were more conscious as the birds had already started breeding and many of them were with their young ones, he said. “New clothes, sweets and mutton curry feast are all about Deepavali for us,” he says.
Deepavali coincided with north-east monsoon season, when the birds flock to the sanctuary and stay put till March. The sanctuary, spread across in 38.40 acres, has about 40% water and has attracted more than half a dozen species, forest department officials said. Thanks to a serene and secured atmosphere, the sanctuary has been the preferred destination for migratory birds such as grey herons, darters, spoonbills, white ibis, black ibis, openbill stork and night herons. Indigenous endangered species such as painted stork, grey heron, little cormorant, little egret, spotbills and pintails also preferred the sanctuary.
Collector J Jayakanthan who visited Kollukudipatti on Wednesday and distributed sweets to the people, appreciating their gesture, was thrilled that the migratory birds visited the sanctuary, stayed and returned back with their young ones. “We should be proud that Vettankudi is the birth place for many migratory birds”, he quipped. The district administration plans to clean up the supply channels to bring more water to the sanctuary, he said. He had also ordered upgradation of road and other facilities in the villages.