Diwali is the time of year where the sky is lit up with the colours of firecrackers. People are stocking up on firecrackers. However, for many years now, two Tamil Nadu villages Kollukudipatti and Singampunari, do not celebrate Diwali by bursting crackers.
Why do they avoid crackers?
The residents of these towns enjoy the exotic birds flying in their skies. This is not a recent occurrence the birds have been a part of their eco-system for a long time. These exotic birds migrate during winter. A forest official, Veeraiya, spoke to the Hindu, saying at 47 years, he has never seen crackers burst all his life. They even avoid crackers during ‘Thiruvizhas’ festival celebrated in the month of April. They prefer welcoming birds like Grey Herons, Darters, Spoonbills, Asian Open Bill Storks, and White Ibises, Painted storks and Egrets. The endangered birds fly towards South India before winter. They come from New Zealand, Siberia, and North India. S Balpandi, a bird expert from Sivaganga explains how a loud bang from the crackers could scare nesting mothers, endangering hatchlings and eggs.
The villagers are unsure when this practice began but, believe it could be almost 3 decades ago when they understood the threat crackers posed to the birds. This decision was made by village elders at a meeting. Arumugam, the former Panchayat President of Kollukudipatti told DT Next, “Earlier during the time of Deepavali, we had exploded loud crackers, and on hearing these sounds, the birds used to shake vigorously. In the process, their eggs fell down from the tree and broke”. This led to the unanimous decision to avoiding crackers while celebrating.
How are young children convinced to avoid bursting crackers?
Parents and the headmaster of Kollukudipatti village school engage in motivational talks with the children each year. In case some children still want to burst crackers, they need to trek two kilometers outside the village before they can do that. The birds provide benefits like enriching the soil & water as well as filling the air with their sound and adding beauty to the surroundings.
It is now an unspoken rule passed on through the generations and is done voluntarily not by compulsion. This village is to be admired for their commitment to preserving nature, the environment, and their eco-system.