By Maneka Gandhi*
I have not seen many crows in Delhi or Chandigarh recently. When I asked this question of other people they realized that they had not seen them for months. A look at Google showed that Kanpur lost them 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 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 have to be the next species to go.
413 million birds are what international agencies say we have lost in the last 5 years. 10,000 bird species are now endangered of which 1,200 are now almost extinct. 190 species are extinct.
Birds as Omen
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 as the prophet which, by its cries, foretells rain, cornix augur aquae. Vergil also mentions it in the same context. In Norse it is 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. Huga is to meditate, muninn is to remember. The Druids 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 worship 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.
There are so many omens in the Vastu Shastras 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-east 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 gain jewellery when a crow caws with his face towards the South-East direction.
- If a person sees a crow sitting on a tree laden with fruit he 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 vehicle.
- If a crow comes into the house and caws it indicates the coming of guests.
·The person who sees a crow sitting on the back of a horse gets a new vehicle.
- 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 gains.
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 prophesize that we will be almost at the end of our own species. If our ancestors can leave, then something is very wrong.
*About the author: Maneka Sanjay Gandhi is a Member of Parliament and leader of animal welfare movement in India. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org