This hospital has wards, operation tables and also amenities like cooler in summers and heater in winters. What’s more, the hospital has netted windows and doors. Yes, nets so the patients don’t go away during treatment. But the same patients — provided free treatment and free food — are left free after they are treated. A very unconventional practice one would say.
Indeed, the Charity Birds Hospital at Chandni Chowk is an unconventional place showcasing compassion extended beyond humans to the winged beings. Run under the Pracheen Shri Aggarwal Digamber Jain Panchayat (Regd), this is the oldest institution catering exclusively to birds of various species in the city.
Located in the premises of Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, opposite the Red Fort, the birds’ hospital takes care of approximately 3,000 birds as in-patients. Apart from pets, a number of these birds were picked from the roads after being found injured.
Says Jain Samaj president Chakresh Jain, “People bring their wounded pet birds. But, not just pets, all ill or injured birds brought here are treated for free. The most common injury because of which birds are brought to the hospital is caused by ceiling fan.” “As many as 18,904 birds were treated at the hospital last year, of which 4,445 were those brought to the OPD,” informs Superintendent Pankaj Jain.
The first step in this effort was taken by (late) Lala Lachchumal Jain Gotewala in 1929, when he treated a parrot at his home in Dariba Kalan area. The hospital was shifted to the present premises about 50 years ago.
Once cured, the birds are set free and those birds, which are permanently disabled, are given life long shelter at the hospital. “The key is, the bird should survive on its own,” points out Dr Vijay Kumar, the in-house veterinary surgeon.
The vet and his team of attendants take care of the birds round the clock. “Generally, the bird takes 10 days to two weeks to recover. Allopathic medicines, injections, plasters, operation if needed are all part of the treatment,” Dr Kumar says.
The birds are fed with bajra, corn, jowar, chana, wheat etc obtained from people’s donation. These people, not just Jains but from every faith, believe in service to all living beings. As Chakresh Jain points out, “We follow the doctrine that every jeev (creature) has got a right to live.”