‘As lockdown hits kabootarbaazi season, time to take care of birds’ - Hindustan Times
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‘As lockdown hits kabootarbaazi season, time to take care of birds’

Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur/Lucknow | ByAbdul Jadid/Oliver Fredrick, Gorakhpur/lucknow
Apr 13, 2020 07:38 PM IST

Dozens of pigeons sit picking grain in big iron cage in a corner of the old cracked terrace. Nearby, their owner, Aftab Ansari, 45, sits looking proudly at his flock. Ansari is a tad disappointed over the cancellation of the district-level pigeon-flying competition due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dozens of pigeons sit picking grain in big iron cage in a corner of the old cracked terrace. Nearby, their owner, Aftab Ansari, 45, sits looking proudly at his flock. Ansari is a tad disappointed over the cancellation of the district-level pigeon-flying competition due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In Lucknow, passionate aficionados say that the Covid-19 outbreak is utterly disappointing, as most pigeon-sports clubs have cancelled all competitions this season (April to May).(HT Photo)
In Lucknow, passionate aficionados say that the Covid-19 outbreak is utterly disappointing, as most pigeon-sports clubs have cancelled all competitions this season (April to May).(HT Photo)

The competition was scheduled to be held in early April under the aegis of Rahmat Pigeon Club. But he has not lost hope and he has begun preparations for next time.

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It’s not only Ansari, but the cancellation of competitions left ‘Kabootarbaz’ (those engaged in pigeon flying sport) in other districts of Uttar Pradesh, especially Lucknow, where the sport is widely participated in, dejected. However, they said ‘whatever it happening is for the good’.

Like Ansari, 25 others competitors are using the lockdown time to train their pigeons, feed them nutritious diet and multi-vitamin tablets and most importantly, sanitising them regularly with a desi formulation of phitkari and water (alum mixed with water) to ensure that Covid-19 does not infect the birds.

“After sanitising them, we too bathe to avoid any infection,” Ansari said.

He said that there were 125 keepers in city who owned almost 12,000 pigeons, both desi and of foreign breeds and 25 of them were preparing for the competition, which will now most likely be rescheduled for after Eid-ul-Fitr (May end).

In Lucknow, passionate aficionados say that the Covid-19 outbreak is utterly disappointing, as most pigeon-sports clubs have cancelled all competitions this season (April to May).

“Indeed, it’s disappointing but there isn’t a way out...whatever is happening, it’s happening for our own good,” said Krishna Sahu, a die-hard enthusiast, who resides in Mohalla Sarai Mali Khan in the Chowk area of the Old City.

Aleem Ahmed Abbasi, another enthusiast, who hails from Maulviganj area of Old Lucknow, said, “Indeed its cancellation (of the competition) is disappointing, as it takes a lot of pain and technique to train these special pigeons.”

Highlighting the species of pigeons, Abbasi said that they belong to Hyderabadi Chandni and Amabarsara—both high-flying varieties and can remain in air for more than 10 hours. He said flight-duration was one of the aspects that decided the victory of a pigeon. Talking about other aspects of the sport, he said, “Basically, there are three kinds of contests. In our lingo, we call it ladaiya, hakaiya and daud.

“In ‘Ladaiya’, two contestants fly their pigeons from a distance. “The winner will be the person whose pigeons bring in the pigeons of the other contestant, when they return. ‘Hakaiya’— this too requires two parties and the winner is the one whose pigeon stays in the air longest. In ‘Daud’, rival pigeons race each other, covering a certain distance. The contestant whose pigeon returns first is the winner. Besides there are other aspects also,” said Abbasi.

Abbasi, who is the proud owner of a wide variety of pigeons, said that Jangla, lalband, sirji, zard, sendhey, ambarsara are a few varieties of high-flying pigeons that cost from Rs 400 to Rs 11,000 a pair.

City historians said Kabootarbazi and cock fights used to be the favourite sports of the nawabs of Awadh. “Both the sports used to be leisure for the nawabs of Awadh. The sport also became a mode of entertainment for the British army and then commoners,” said noted city historian Yogesh Praveen. He said that there are a few families and few clubs that are keeping the Nawabi era sport still alive.

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