The hand-painted hallways of the famed Charity Birds Hospital at the Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir temple in New Delhi, India, graphically illustrate the many ways birds suffer serious injuries.
The Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir temple dates from the year 1656 and is the oldest Jain temple in New Delhi. Located across the street from the Indian capitol's imposing Red Fort, the temple complex includes the Jain Birds Hospital, situated in a separate building behind the main temple.
The Jain Birds Hospital rises three stories into the acrid New Delhi air, and its topmost level is caged with metal mesh screens that confine and protect its avian “patients”. A polished brass plaque mounted inside the first floor entrance displays the hospital's mission statement, as it were, with the opening line reading “BIRDS ARE OUR FRIENDS!”
The gentle sentiments expressed in English and Hindi, not to mention of the Jain Birds Hospital itself, reflect the sect's emphasis on compassion for all creatures and respect for life in all of its forms.
Indeed, adherents of Jainism operate animal shelters, clinics and hospitals throughout India. That said, the hand-painted wall murals that line the hallways inside the Jain Birds Hospital can be a shocking sight to visitors viewing them for the first time.
The murals are meant to depict some of the many ways birds are injured, from depredation by other animals to injuries inflicted by collisions with human artifacts including kite strings and ceiling fans.
Painted in bright colors against a sky blue background, the murals combine the childlike innocence of folk art with a heaping helping of Darwinist "nature red in tooth and claw" starkness. Almost every example is highlighted by brilliant red blood and gore! Imagine if this was a children's hospital... actually, don't do that, OK?
Kudos to Flickr member Peretz Partensky, who snapped these photos and many more on a visit to India in 2011.