Delhi-based Vinod Goel has an unusual hobby.
His life revolves around peafowl and their feathers. Goel is a wildlife photographer with peacocks as his main subject and his passion has led him to collect all kinds of peacock feathers.
Six years now into being a full-time photographer, he has innumerable feathers in varying colours and sizes in his private collection. Vivid and shiny, the feathers feature shades of red, gold, green, brown, black, and of course, the universal blue.
Few of these feathers vary from 1.5 inches to 5 feet and feature appealing designs.
The brown ones appear similar to those of tiger stripes and one of the green ones displays a fan-like design.
He has also collected a rare two-eyed peacock feather.
“As I photograph peacocks almost every day, I wanted to make people aware that it is not just the commonly seen blue-and-green coloured feather – called eye feather – that makes a peacock’s plumage.
"His entire body is covered in different types of feathers ranging from his neck to its tail,” says Goel.
He preserves the small peacock feathers in boxes at his home, and decorates his office and drawing room with the larger ones.
In fact, several artefacts in his drawing room feature the national bird.
But he feels there’s very less awareness about the national bird.
“There are hardly any books or exhibitions on peafowls in India. For any reference we have to seek international work on the bird. The peacock is an intelligent creature, and being the national bird of India, I felt it needs more emphasis. For this reason, I am planning to showcase the pictures of peacocks with more prominence on its feathers.”
Over the centuries, peacocks have vowed many sections of society, and Goel has done his homework about the bird’s influence on art, history and religion.
“This bird was a favourite with many historical figures, Alexandar being one of them. We also see it in temples. The feather is even used by many tribal communities for their cultural performances. At present, the feather is used in many jewellery items.”
Observing the personality of peacocks over a considerable period of time has made the photographer an authority on this subject.
He even has maintained a daily diary on his experiences near peafowls. He says, “It feels great when they come near you and dance. It takes you into a different trance altogether. I don’t feel good if I don’t see peacock for a day,” says Goel.