“To the seeing eye life is mostly Sparrows.”
~ Will Cuppy
World Sparrow Day (20 March) dates back to 2010, an initiative by the Nature Forever Society (NFS) founded by ecologist and conservationist Mohammed Dilawar. The day was designated to raise awareness of the sparrow population disappearing at an alarming rate in spite of the bird being the most widespread wild bird on earth. This day is also set aside to remind us of our long-forgotten bond with the cheeping beauties and their warm and comforting songs. Ever since India observed the first World Sparrow Day, the idea has caught on in 50 countries. As part of a conservation plan, the sparrow has also been declared as Delhi’s state bird in 2012 and the state bird of Bihar in 2013.
The little birds have also found their way into religion and folklore. In Christianity, sparrows explain the extent of God’s love and care for His creations. The Holy Quran reminds us that whoever is kind to God’s creations is also kind to themselves. According to Jewish mysticism, these are the only birds inhabiting the branches of the Tree of Souls.
After the Roman poet Catullus (c.84-54 BC) transformed this unremarkable bird into a contested symbol of romantic love, sparrows have provoked as much affection or controversy. This sacred bird of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, symbolised true love and spiritual connection.
Dr Elsa Lycias Joel holds a doctorate in biotechnology, and writes for Delhi Press. She has worked with New Indian Express as sub editor. She has also authored a children’s book Perfect Endings signed by former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.