Grandparents are a treasure trove of stories and their experiences are invaluable in terms of the teachings and lessons they bring us. My grandfather told me a story about an incident from his life which took place in the 1980s, and it explained a lot from the present situation at home. This incident helped me understand why there are so many pigeons at home and why they’re important to my family.
My grandfather had gone to the weekly market to buy a rooster of a good breed. His motive was to have more species of a good breed in our home, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to buy a rooster. However, he saw a man selling pairs of pigeons. Intrigued by this sight and knowing that doves and pigeons are symbols of peace, and that peace is essential, he bought two pairs i.e. four pigeons.
These four pigeons have since multiplied and my house is full of them. It is an Adivasi belief that pigeons don’t live in just any and every home. Pigeons only live in and near those families who are blessed, who don’t quarrel and fight, who live in peace and harmony. My family believes that if we fight and quarrel and destroy the peace in our home, all the pigeons will leave us. Over the years, in comparison to previous years, I have seen a decrease in the number of pigeons in my home.
Any family that keeps pigeons at home knows that this means that the whole house will be filled with their droppings in the morning and this has to be cleaned every day. This has been happening with us too, but my family members never complain about their droppings, nor get frustrated cleaning it every day. If by chance a pigeon poops on someone, especially on the head and shoulder, it is considered good luck.
Pigeons, my Adivasi communities believe, live in only peaceful homes.
The Benefits Of Having Pigeons At Home
Waking up in the morning with the soothing calls of the pigeons is a peaceful experience. Our community believes that hearing the “Gutargoo Gutargoo” calls of the pigeon in the morning is auspicious. We have noticed that the pigeons also act as watch guards, making loud noises at night when someone is trying to break in or steal something.
During the winters, my family consumes the pigeon’s meat. Pigeon meat, also known as squab if the pigeon is under 4 weeks old, is known to be a great locally sourced meat. It is high in protein, minerals and also contains zinc. Providing a good amount of heat, the meat is consumed occasionally in the winters to survive the cold. It’s usually the squab that is consumed, as their meat and bones are softer than older pigeons.
There are some rules that my family has to follow when it comes to pigeon meat consumption:
My family members cannot remove the pigeons from their nest at home. This has to be done by someone who does not belong to my family.
During the Ghomma festival, it is forbidden to consume meat, take them out from their nest or to give the pigeons to someone else.
We are not allowed to sell the pigeons to anyone.
Since pigeons don’t make their nests on the trees, they are fully dependent on the nest provided by their caretaker. They are provided with bamboo baskets or wide mouth pots which are hung from the ceiling and this becomes their home. As they can’t make their own nests, they often make human houses their home. The bond between Adivasi communities and the flora and fauna around them is very strong, and our home, for one, is quite happy to host these beautiful birds.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.
Featured image provided by the author.
This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz