Print Edition - 2014-12-14  |  Free the Words

Much to crow about

  • If we lose the crows, we will lose far more than a species of bird
- MANEKA SANJAY GANDHI
Much to crow about

Dec 13, 2014-

I have not seen many crows in the Indian cities of Delhi or Chandigarh recently. When I asked this question to other people, they realised that they too had not seen them for months. A quick Google search revealed that Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, India lost them all in 2011. I hope they are not going the way of the sparrow or the vulture, because this is extremely bad news for humans. Crow disappearances cannot be linked to a lack of housing or pesticides or even specific chemicals like Diclofenac (which caused the die out of vultures). They eat everything—and I mean everything. So if they have gone, then that means everything around us is so polluted and unsafe that we might be the next species to go.

Crows across cultures

International agencies say that we have lost 413 million birds in the last five years. Ten thousand bird species are now endangered, of which 1,200 are now almost extinct; 190 species are already extinct. This is an omen signifying the end of the world as we know it. The word ‘auspice’, meaning an omen or prognostication, is actually derived from the Latin word that means  ‘an observer of birds for omens’.

And the black bird omen seems to be one that appears in people’s minds when hearing the words  ‘birds as omens’. The cornix, crow, is mentioned by Horace—a Roman lyric poet—as a prophet which, by its cries, foretells rain, cornix augur aquae. Virgil, another ancient Roman poet, also mentions crows in the same context. In Norse, the Norwegian language, especially in its medieval form, the crow is called ‘kraka’. The Greek ‘korax’ is a crow or raven, and the word can mean something strange and unexpected. Odin, the Norse God, had two ravens, Hugin and Muninn. Hugin is to meditate and Muninn is to remember. The Druids, members of the educated, professional class among Celtic peoples, held the crow as sacred because it carried the soul from one life to the next. Kag Puja, also known as Kag Parva, or worship of crows is the first day of Diwali, or Tihar, festival in Nepal. This day is dedicated to the worship of crows.

In Hinduism, crows are supposed to be incarnations of our ancestors. Among the most intelligent of birds, crows never eat alone—they call their friends to eat with them. They make and use tools, protect their children, live in a social environment, and mourn the death of their loved ones like humans. During shraadh, the period of mourning when Hindus recall their dead relatives, crows are fed. They are also routinely fed at cremation grounds.

What this means

There are so many omens in the Vastu Shastra relating to crows:

- If a crow comes from the South-West in the evening, it is an indication of an approaching calamity.

- If a crow comes from the South-West direction in the evening, it indicates monetary gain.

- When a crow drops a piece of burnt wood, bone, or meat on the bed of a person, it indicates approaching danger or death in the near future.

- If a cawing crow passes from the left, it is a good omen.

- When many crows start cawing together in a corner or around the house, it indicates approaching danger.

- When a crow comes flying from the North-East early in the morning, it indicates good news.

- The crowing of a crow on the roof is inauspicious.

- When a crow calls out with its face towards the South, the head of the family will have a good day.

- Seeing a crow sitting on the back of a pig indicates legal complications. However, if it is sitting on a camel or a donkey, it is a good omen.

- If a person sees a crow flying in the clockwise direction, he or she faces bad relations with relatives.

- When a crow carries a vessel or some costly article, it is associated with danger. When a crow brings grass or burnt wood to the house, it indicates danger from fire.

- When a crow caws with its face towards the South-West, it indicates monetary gain for the watcher.

- A person is likely to acquire jewellery when a crow caws with its face towards the South-East direction.

- If a person sees a crow sitting on a tree laden with fruit, he/she will receive wealth and honour.

- When a crow caws facing the North-West, the head of the family gets grain and arms as gifts.

- When a crow caws with its face towards the North, the head of the family has chances of

getting new clothes or a vehicle.

- If a crow comes into the house and caws, it indicates the coming of guests.

n The person who sees a crow sitting on the back of a horse gets a new vehicle.

n When a person sees a crow sitting on the tail of a cow and cawing, he or she faces ill health.

- Seeing two crows together brings bad news.

- When the crow caws facing the North-East, the head of the family will be subject to monetary gain.

Feed the crows as often as you can. Grow trees so that they can nest. If we lose the crows, we will lose far more than a species of bird.

At the risk of being a doomsday prophet, I prophesise that we will be almost at the end of our own species. If even our ancestors leave, something is very wrong.

www.peopleforanimalsindia.com

Published: 14-12-2014 09:37

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