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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Assam’s Mass-Suicide Joint, heard of it?

It is weird, but this mass-suicide story is as new to me as it must be to you guys. A friend working for the DD, Bhagyajeet’s repeated requests to join his Orkut community on the same got me wondering – what the heck is this mass-suicide about?

Twenty years, in ‘oxomi aiyr kulat’ (in the lap of mother assam) and never did I take notice of this crazy phenomenon. I know, you want me to come to the point at once.

Well, there’s this sleepy village in North Cachar Hills, 330 km south of Guwahati, which hosts a mass-suicide of migratory birds every year. The suiciding-spree lasts for 4 months beginning August.

Here are excerpts from news clippings I found enlightening ---

“The birds come crashing to the ground like ghosts from nowhere during the nights, which are usually moonless and foggy, accompanied by wind and drizzle, in the village inhabited by some 2,500 Jaintia tribal people.....

Legend has it that the Zemi Naga tribal villagers at Jatinga were the first to witness the phenomenon in the late 19th century when disoriented birds in their thousands flocked to a bonfire lit by locals in a field to scare away wild pigs. The experience frightened the villagers, as they believed the birds were evil spirits swooping down from the sky. Eventually the Zemi Naga tribe deserted Jatinga.

The Jaintias, who moved to Jatinga in 1905, stumbled on the phenomenon while going to the hills at night with flaming torches to round up cattle. The bamboo torches attracted showers of birds, which the Jaintias regarded as a "god-sent gift".

Experts say that up to 50 species of birds get killed, including the Tiger Bittern, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Pond Heron, Indian Pitta and Kingfishers.....”.

Intriguing isn’t it? This gives me a new vacationing idea while going hometown this year-end. Wonder if Assam Tourism realises that this can mean good-moolah and of course, a good stop-over for nature enthusiasts who like it better, when there is some mystery involved.

Want to know more? Go ahead and read my friend Bhagyajeet’s story at


****13**** said...

Just read somewhere, it is not exactly a 'suicide'. The birds get drown by the source of light and die in the fire. A book, "The Enchanting Land and the Bird Mystery of Jatinga", by Dushyant Parasher, should be refered to if you want to know more about it.

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