12th SEP 20:42 hrs IST
Chennai, INDIA: The famous Meenakshi temple in Madurai is setting free a large number of parrots that have been an integral part of the 1,200-years-old temple.
The temple authorities have decided to free the birds following requests from animal welfare organisations like the Blue Cross. Similar requests had also come from the state forest department, according to P. Bhaskaran, executive officer of the temple.
The authorities plan to keep only one pair of parrots in the temple to maintain the tradition and 60 of the caged birds have been freed already.
The temple, about 500 km from here, have been keeping parrots traditionally, as the statue of the goddess in the temple holds a golden parrot in her hand. Devotees started donating parrots to the temple about a century ago.
Later, an aviary was set up in one wing of the massive temple, which is called the "kili koondu mandapam". The astrologers in the temple town have been taking help of the parrots to tell fortunes. Besides, the parrots have been a major attraction for the visitors.