Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Pigeon Chronicles (3)

[The last of 3 posts on Bombay's pigeons, inspired by a visit to the Gateway of India - see previous posts]

The only time that pigeons get into trouble in Bombay is in January during Makara Sankranti, when the kite festival begins.

Kite flying originally came to India from China. Kite fighting, where you cut 'enemy' kites, was an annual feature of my childhood in Bombay. To help cut better, the manja string is coated with crushed glass powder. I remember going to shops and carefully, very carefully, selecting the kite and the string. We'd come back, run to the terrace, and fly our kites with glee. The older kids would swagger around, showing off their skills. And then someone would spot a strange kite in the sky, and the contest would begin. The two kites would dance in the sky, their strings in contest. Victory brought cheers and jubilation, and defeat sent us running down the steps, chasing the lost kite.

I read recently, though, that kite fighting has one unexpected fallout - bird injury. Several pigeons are badly injured every year. It's the sharp kite string - manja - that does it.

PAWS is an animal welfare organisation in Bombay that rescues and treats injured birds. I couldn't find their website, but Nilesh Bhanage can be reached on +91 98201 61114, if you spot an injured bird. You can also write to them at

- Deepa

1 comment:

Haddock said...

Aha the good old days of kite flying and 'page ladana' with the special manja. If you can catch a "Daboo gul patang" then you are a master at catching kites.
Thats Ghasleti manja in the picture I suppose.