Why was it made a national symbol?
The Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, was selected as the national bird in 1963. It was chosen from among other contenders—including the Great Indian Bustard, the Sarus crane, the mythical Garuda, and the swan—because of its distribution throughout India, for being easily recognisable, and its association with Indian myths and legends. It was selected also because it would not be confused with the national birds of other countries, and could lend itself to formal depictions in government documents.
The peacock, known for its easy adaptability in various climatic conditions, continues to populate large swathes of the country. Atul Sathe, communications manager at the Bombay Natural History Society, says, “Though there has been a loss of habitat in some areas, and poaching in parts of north-western India, the bird is not in danger.” Many communities consider the bird sacred (since it is the vehicle of Lord Kartikeya) and refrain from hunting it; some even feed the birds.
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(This story appears in the 22 August, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)