For the fourteenth successive year, people in eight villages surrounding a bird sanctuary in Erode district did not burst crackers during Diwali, fearing it might scare away the winged visitors forever.

Around 750 families live in villages around Vellode Birds Sanctuary, about 15 km from here.

Manickkam, a 70-year-old farmer, said thousands of birds arrive at the sanctuary during October-January season. Since it was just two km away from his village V Mettupalayam villagers felt the loud sound of bursting crackers during Diwali would scare away the birds once and for all.

“So all eight villagers surrounding the sanctuary have not burst crackers for the past 14 years,” he said.

These people also do not use crackers for local village festivals.

Another villager said that on Diwali day they wear new clothes, visit the sanctuary with their families and offer grains to the birds and fishes.

Forest Department officials said more than 2,000 persons visited the sanctuary on Diwali day on Saturday.

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