Flying Hopes: the passion of Kashmiri pigeons

Mohammad Abbas Sofi, 45, a well-known pigeon fancier from the Moti Mohalla area of ​​Dalgate in Srinagar, says he has been breeding pigeons for three decades. He says and it is his passion and helps relieve stress and worry.

“We are stealing hope, it gives me a unique feeling. Our family has a long history of breeding pigeons and when I grew up I also started to breed them,” he said.

Currently Sofi has 60-80 pigeons of different breeds. Throughout the year, he sells and buys new ones according to his passion for pigeon racing.

Sofi is a businessman by profession and spends most of his free time with the pigeons. He feeds them three times a day and says to himself that it’s kind of an addiction. “During the mating season there is a need for more care compared to normal days,” he said.

For several years now, bird lovers in the valley have started breeding pigeons again. “There are different breeds of pigeons including Musier, Khatri, Check, Lal Anch and Matakali which are the cutest because of their long tails, but they can’t fly that high,” said Sofi.

The 45-year-old says Lal Anch (red-eyed pigeon) is the most popular these days and is loved by young enthusiasts. Now foreign pigeons are also sold in Kashmir, including sun season pigeons, Turkey and Pakistani pigeons, he said.

He said that there is another type of bird called a dump pigeon. It is a category of breeds of domestic pigeons and is mainly developed for participating in competitions. They are well trained, intelligent and known for their strength, he said.

“The local Kashmiri pigeons are mainly bred in villages as they require less attention and can survive on their own without much care. This includes the red tajdar pigeons,” he said.

Regarding the prices of the pigeons, Sofi specifies that it depends on the choice of the owner. “Normally a pair of pigeons costs around 2,000 to 3,000 rupees, while sometimes it can go beyond that, there are people who buy a pair for 10,000 to 15,000 rupees in Srinagar,” he said. he adds.

There is more enthusiasm among the younger generation for pigeon racing. In Srinagar, there are famous points where pigeons are sold, bought and traded, including Malkhah, Chattabal, Sadakada, Ranger stop and other parts of the city.

At Lal Chowk Mall, one can often see people feeding pigeons near the iconic Clock Tower. In the famous shrines of Kashmir, pigeons can be seen everywhere and devotees love to feed them.

Abdul Hameed Bakshi, a pigeon fancier from Yadipora Hyderbeigh in Baramulla in North Kashmir, has been in the pigeon racing business for 12 years. He said he dropped out of school halfway because of his passion for breeding pigeons.

“Over the years there has been a massive decline in pigeon breeding in villages, but now it has started to gain momentum. I buy and sell pigeons all over Kashmir. D’Uri in Qazigund there is a particular demand from people living in towns and villages around pigeons, ”he said.

Bakshi says that in the villages of Kashmir there are popular breeds of pigeons, including Tajal Mozal, Masakali and foreign breeds. “They can be bought for 20,000 to 30,000 rupees a pair and sometimes more,” he said.

“Breeding pigeons is nothing but love for them because it requires passion. My morning starts with calling these pigeons and ends with feeding them properly. It gives me a unique feeling when a pigeon becomes happy, “he said.

Bakshi says the high-flying pigeons are part of traditional Kashmiri society and their history dates back to the Mughal era when Akber introduced them to the valley.

“The key to good health is prevention. The same goes for breeding pigeons. Sick carrier pigeons cannot produce healthy offspring and sick pigeons in one loft expose other lofts to a risk of contamination, “he said.

“We also have to take care of their health. Usually we vaccinate them several times a year and take extra hygiene measures,” he added.

About pigeons trained to transmit or send messages, he said, with the advent of new, faster and more reliable technologies, there is little or no possibility at the moment.

Another pigeon fancier, Mudasir Yousuf, from the Kokernag region in Anantnag equates pigeons as a symbol of love and peace. They are birds of sacrifice, dream, kindness and understanding, he said.

“After I graduated I opened a clothing store. I take the time to take care of and feed my pigeons. They are like my own family,” he said.

“My family asks me to get rid of them, but I love them too much. This is my passion; I plan to make them a permanent space on our roof, ”he said.

Yousuf said that unlike other parts of the world where races and other competitions are held, here people have limited retention of pigeons out of passion only.

“There are a lot of pigeons that people love to breed, including roller pigeons which are known for their bold and aggressive looks. While the fantail pigeon has the appearance of the fan-shaped tail and the textures of silky feathers, ”he said.

Yousuf said carrier pigeons are known for their ability to return to their nests. They are also known for their flying qualities despite long distances and are used in competition. At first they were also called messenger pigeons, he said.

Faizan Ahmad Shah, a dovecote from Magarmal Bagh, initially said his family opposed his passion. “But I motivated them. I made a henhouse for the pigeon which is still divided into several parts: a cage and a breeding room,” he said.

“They make me happy. There are a lot of people in our society who indulge in drug addiction and smoking. Raising pigeons is a thousand times better than that and helps relieve stress and keep one out. between them engaged, ”he said.

Shah said that from childhood he was prone to pigeons. There are different types of pigeons which are classified according to their texture, type of beak, nails and eye color.

“I like to keep Moesur (dotted), Chot (all in white), Zug (black), Zawdogh (white and black) and Kal-Wozul in the local language,” he said.

Shah said that over the past decades in Srinagar, hundreds of people are keenly interested in breeding pigeons. It is increasing with each passing day and during the Covid-19 lockdown there has been an increase in local demand, ”Shah added.

Estimate

There are different breeds of pigeons including Musier, Khatri, Check, Lal Anch and Matakali pigeons which are the most adorable because of their long tails.

Breeding pigeons is only love for them because it takes passion. My morning starts with calling these pigeons and ends with feeding them properly. It gives me a unique feeling when a pigeon becomes happy.

My family asks me to get rid of them, but I love them too much. This is my passion; I plan to make them a permanent space on our roof.


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