Buffy Fish Owl at Sundarban
Buffy Fish Owl at Sundarban

As we all know that this year the festival of Deepawali is being celebrated and would start from 17th Oct and will end on 21st of October. The main festival when Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with all pomp and show ,is on 19th October. Apart from lighting of lamps, use of new clothes , exchange of sweets and gifts amongst the known people ,fire crackers are burnt on all the 5 days.

The Honourable Supreme Court of India has recently banned the sale of fire- crackers in the NCR Delhi. A few days back the High Court of Mumbai has banned the sale in Mumbai too. This step of the highest court is a well come step keeping in view the health of the citizens.

Collared Scops Owl at Pench

It is a known fact that sound greater than 90 dB (unit of sound ) is harmful to all the species. The fire crackers sound is more than 140 dB at a distance of 5 feet. The Central Pollution Board of India has banned fire crackers with a decibel level of more than 125 at a distance of 4 meters from the bursting point . But still the fire crackers creating more sound than the prescribed limits are available at all the places other than where the courts have put their foot down and being used in a big way. Can we put a break at the manufacturing stage too ?. This is also a open secret that child labour is used for the production of fire crackers and related products.

It is heartening to know that there are two villages in Tamilnadu who have not burst crackers for several decades. These villages are in Sivaganga district namely S Mampatti and Kollukudipatti. Further there are villages around Salem and Erode have given up bursting of fireworks during the festival of Deepawali to protect the birds and bats.

Jungle Owlet at Rajaji

It is also a fact that Diwali is a festival of lights for us but it brings darkness for the birds and the animals. Most of the birds in our residential colonies are perched on the trees and the bushes . Similarly most of the animals whether pet or otherwise stay in the street or the roads. These creatures suffer the most the sound beyond their hearing capacity and the harmful gases emitted by the fire crackers.

In our country Deepawali is dark for the harmless OWLS. At various places offices as well as homes tantric pooja or ceremonies are performed in which these birds are sacrificed .To seek the blessings of Goddess of wealth Laxmi , poor owls are killed by the blind faith people to ensure prosperity in life .The trading in owls is brisk during Dussehra to Deepawali. Out of 34 species found in India about 15 are found in the trade market. Owls with Ears are thought to possess magical powers and therefore tantrics demand is for such species for sacrifice. Tantrics often gives the nails, beak and the feathers of the owl to the people for keeping them in the locker of the cupboards and assure that they will become prosper and wealthy in no time. Each owl fetches lot of money to the seller of the bird. Sometimes more than a lakhs of Rs for a bird .

Jungle Owlet at Rajaji

Why do we forget that owls are important to our eco system as the tigers or many other known or unknown species. It is important that their role especially the owl has to be brought to light before the people before they get immersed in the festive season.

Brown Fish Owl at Dudhwa

The owls are also real friends of the farmer community as they help in controlling the rodents such as rats and insects and ultimately we are dependent upon the farmers for our daily needs.

Let us take a pledge to save the carrier of Goddess Laxmi on this festivity.

About Vinod Goel

He joined Customs & Central Excise service in 1982. As a civil servant, his job takes him to various parts of India, which gave him an opportunity to capture our wild heritage, through his camera. His passion for wildlife photography started in 2004 when he was posted at Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and this passion continues till today.