Neelkantha – the Dashahra Bird
Neelkantha is a beautiful bird. It is called ‘roller’ in English. ‘Neel’ means ‘blue’ and ‘kantha’ means ‘throat’; so ‘Neelkantha’ literally means a bird having a blue throat. According to legend, this bird is said to be sacred to Lord Vishnu, who is the supreme God and one of the most significant deities in Hinduism. The name Neelkantha is also associated with the legend of Lord Shiva, who drank the poison to save human beings and the world, resulting in the blue throat. Lord Shiva is also called Neelkantha and the bird is prayed to offer praying to Him.
There is a custom related with this bird. People of the Terai Region in Nepal and also in India see this bird on the day of Vijaya Dashami (Dashami or Dashehara) for their good and prosperous life. It is believed that the bird will take the wish to the similarly blue-throated Lord Shiva on Mt Kailash who will fulfil the wish. It is also believed that if they see this bird on this day, they will have an auspicious and successful year ahead with full of good moments.
Some Facts About Neelkantha – roller
The rollers are an Old World family, Coraciidae, of near passerine birds. The group gets its name from the aerial acrobatics some of these birds perform during courtship or territorial flights. Rollers resemble crows in size and build, and share the colourful appearance of kingfishers and bee-eaters, blues and pinkish or cinnamon browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but not the outer one.
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, ranging from 25 to 27 centimetres (10–11 in) in length. They share the colourful appearance of kingfishers and bee-eaters, blues and pinkish or cinnamon browns predominating. The rollers are similar in general morphology to their relatives in the order Coraciiformes, having large heads on short necks, bright plumage, weak feet and short legs. The two inner front toes are connected, but not the outer one. The weakness of the feet and legs is reflected in their behaviour, rollers do not hop or move along perches and seldom use their feet other than for occasional lurching leaps along the ground pursuing escaping prey. The bill is robust, and is shorter yet broader in the genus Eurystomus, sometimes known as the broad-billed rollers. The broad-billed rollers have brightly coloured bills, whereas those of the Coracias (or true) rollers are black. Other differences between the two genera are in wing length; the more aerial Eurystomus rollers have longer wings (and shorter feet still) than the Coracias rollers, this reflects differences in their foraging ecology. Their calls are “repeated short, gruff caws”.