Kabootar jaa jaa jaa, pehle pyaar ki pehli chitthi saajan ko de aa...
Gone are the days when women would say these things to their patrons, the kabootars. Pigeons have acted as the messenger of God for people in love, for people who wanted to give exclusive information to someone. You will be surprised to know that these pigeons are still in the limelight. They prove to be the true patrons that they are even used after so many years of development of internet and other modes of communication.
For millennials, when 4G starts to act like a scam, these pigeons are still used in Odisha. Their accuracy is intact and they never fail to miss anything that has to be delivered.
The Police Pigeon service is more than 70 years old, and it is one of a kind. This unique way of communication is a stand-alone in the world where people communicate via emails, telecommunications and networking.
200 pigeons were given to them by the army for experimentation. This was specifically done for areas where there were no wireless or telephone links.
The services are headquartered at Cuttack which is the breeding station for these pigeons. The messages that are to be delivered are written on a piece of paper and are inserted in capsules. These capsules are then tied to the pigeon's feet. Isn't it interesting?
And you'll be amazed to know that they are extensively used during floods.
For times when radio networks also failed and communication was necessary to ask for help, these pigeons outsmarted many criminals and other people who tried to manipulate information. They delivered the correct information when other sources could not be used.
Ancient practices sometimes outperform the modern inventions.
Noted environmentalist Dr Biswajit Mohanty said: “the old pigeon tradition should be kept alive. These pigeons are excluded from the Wildlife Protection Act, so they can be used. It is a vanishing art which should be protected.”
“Carrier pigeons are by no means a recent introduction in India. Pigeon breeding is an art that goes back to Mughal days. They can be seen on Mughal paintings, carrying love messages into harems or secret military instructions to soldiers in the field. Emperor Shah Jahan was one of the greatest breeders of pigeons. This unique tradition should be preserved," said renowned ornithologist Panchami Manoo Ukil.
The Belgian Pigeons, live up to 20 years and fly 25 kms in just 15-20 mins. They are trained at the age of six weeks and are taught to fly up to 500 miles. Depending on the weather this distance varies.
A few years back the government had decided to wind up this service, but it still continues as a token service and is maintained by the government.
These pigeons are definitely taking the ancient way of communication ahead and our legacy forward. The times have surely changed, but in situations where nothing helps the modern man, the ancient practices come to the rescue and help us like true patrons.
Cover image source: Sanjib Sarangi
That's all, folks!
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