The parrot has found pride of place in many an epic, folktale and folk song. From playing the role of a messenger, story teller, to even being used as a fortune teller, the bird has adorned Indian imagination for several centuries. In fact, representations of the bird have been found in paintings and textiles from various regions in India. Perhaps, the ability of the bird to mimic the human voice is what has made it an endearing image in the Indian artistic tradition.

Like some other birds, the parrot too is considered to be the vehicle of Kamadeva or the god of love, which is why poetry and songs that mention this god or his consort Rati often find mention of the bird.

Here is an example of the parrot, referred to often as suva, finding place in a Kumauni folk song by Gopal Babu Goswami from Uttarakhand:


But when it comes to commonly heard Hindustani vocal compositions, the parrot does not seem to find as much of a mention as the koel (cuckoo), papiha (hawk-cuckoo), kaagaa (crow), or mor (peacock). One wonders what could be the reason of this relative absence, despite the multitude of references in several other art forms. In the few instances that it does find mention, it is addressed as shuka and often coupled with pik, which is another name of the koel.

Eminent composer and vocalist Laxman Prasad Jaipurwale sings a drut or fast-paced composition set to the 16-matra Teentaal in the raag Bahar, prescribed for the spring season. The composition describes the cries of the shuk or parrot in celebration of the spring season along with those of the koel, mor and the mythical chaatak.