Barn Owl – Tyto Alba

Categories Delhi

In colloquial Hindi, an owl is equated with an ass – ullu is same as gadha. It ranges from being an affectionate term to a mild abuse – meaning anything between a lovable fool to utter good for nothing. In Punjabi, ullu ka pattha (son of an owl) casts doubts on your genealogy and is a clear call for a fistfight.

Those are a few unpleasant ways in which the poor bird is portrayed in this part of the world. But there is another side to it too. An owl is considered to be the vaahan of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, therefore a good omen. I don’t know how to appropriately translate vaahan in English (literally, it means a mode of transport), but the owl is to Laxmi what the mouse is to Ganesha. Do a Google image search, you will get the idea.

Once you do, spare me the lecture about Hinduism and how it is a naturalistic religion. We are the oldest, so show some respect.

Anyhow, Siddhartha was not flying yesterday too. While idling his time away at home, he spotted a Barn Owl (Tyto Alba – no relation to Jessica Alba, or is there?) and took a few nude photos of it. Wait, you must be thinking who spots a barn owl while idling away at home, unless one is living in the Sunderbans?

He doesn’t live in the Sunderbans, but in another jungle  – Gurgaon. Without further ado, here are the photos:

barn owl
What the hell are you doing in Gurgaon, dude?
tyto alba
Is it the camera angle or do you have just one leg?
barn owl in gurgaon
Yeah, babe, that’s how you pose! Hope the male barn owls in Gurgaon are better behaved than the male humans.

You know why you see this owl during the day? Because, Gurgaon mein parinde bhi raat ko par marne se darte hain!

  • zahra

    I think that the barn owl is arguably the most beautiful of all owls. Unfortunately, this fella doesn’t have as pristine white feathers as its British counterpart would.

    Also, my mum always points out how certain things are opposite in Western and Asian culture. This being a case in point. Calling someone an “ullu” is deemed as kinda derogatory over there. But in the West owls are always seen as wise birds and equated with wisdom.

    • Oh come on, Zahra. Owls are not beautiful. Not even this flat faced one! Cute, may be, but I won’t go as far as beautiful.

      Ullu as a negative term has its origins in North India, I guess. It is not so in South India and in the East, it is always considered a good omen. My father used to be delighted when one will sit on our window, rare as it were. But, yes, the poor guy has become synonymous with a fool now.

  • Sid

    Thanks Jahid n Ali… We jointly hope that we keep offering you all visual, verbal and intellectual treat. Cheers n thanks for visiting us.

  • aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar


  • Jahid Akhtar

    nice post on Ullu 🙂