Chabutras (bird feeding structures) of Ahmedabad – A Children’s Perspective

About a century and half ago, while travelling from Dakor to Dwaraka, a saint stopped at Karnej, before the Bhadra Gate in Old Ahmedabad. As he hardly found any trees at Karnej, he showed deep concerns for the natural world around. He followed his heart and decided to build a chabutra for birds who could come, feed and rest.

Chabutra is truly an integral part of Ahmedabad’s non-violence heritage as it relates to the concern and welfare of all forms of life. Chabutras are aesthetically pleasing structures through their curious architecture, art, and rich colours. They offer great sights of love and compassion for visitors to Ahmedabad’s pols. Children of pols also associate with Chabutras closely as they often feed grains to pigeons and other birds near them.

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When I lived in the pol for a brief period in 2008, I had organized an art workshop for the neighbourhood children. One of the themes was sketching of chabutras.

Children used their vivid imaginations and put colour. Some added background scenes, such as hills, water bodies, sun, houses, clouds, sky, trees and so on. An interesting aspect of their creation that I noticed was that none of chabutras was sketched in isolation. They were filled with life. Looking closely I could also feel children’s visualization power while some visualized it as a temple other as a rain shelter. Some of the younger children visualized the life around chabutras as dreamscapes.

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It was indeed a unique experience while journeying through the simple yet imaginative world of children in the pols of Ahmedabad.

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