Kabutarbazi was one of the popular folk sport of North India and Pakistan, which is not so popular these days. But on visiting Old Delhi streets, one can see such things preserved very well...
In these colorful streets of Old Delhi, we can still find folks with skills of controlling flocks of pigeons; making them to fly up and land back with just a few verbal commands. The level of skill determines the status you earn in this sport and while it is challenging but possible to become an 'Ustad' or 'Kabutarbaz', becoming a Khalifa can be an ambitious goal.
It is a sport that is popular in the North region of India as well is in Pakistan.... Unlike many other folk sports, Kabootarbazi is fairly developed and championships are held every year in different areas...
If you have visited Old Delhi, I am sure you must have noticed lot of pigeons flying in the sky. Especially Jama Masjid is always surrounded by lots of pigeon groups. At times, some of the pigeons from one group choose to join the other group, which is owned by someone else. All groups are very attentive to their master's voice. So suddenly one of the pigeon start joining the other flock. This takes an interesting turn in the game.
When a pigeon from one group joins the other group, the original owner looses the right on that pigeon. Now if Original owner want that pigeon back in his group, s/he needs to pay appropriate amount as per the breed and skills of that pigeon. And there is no guarantee that Pigeon will not go and join new group. Such a classic game, which make the whole community of Old Delhi very strong. Somehow, I felt that people in Old Delhi have much stronger bonding as compared to other regions of Delhi. Most of them know who owns which group/flock of Pigeons and who is good at what. All such information makes each of them informed about styles of each family and all these games help in strengthen the bond.
Pigeon master OR KabutarBaaz are folks who actively involved in such games and gain mastery over a period of time. A Kabutarbaaz raises the pigeons and looks after their health as he prepares each bird individually in terms of strength and skills.
Most of the houses in Old Delhi have hundreds of pigeons on their roof-top.
Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s state processions through the major parts of Delhi always included one elephant who carried the royal pigeon-house. Pigeons had good importance in pastas well and some parts of our country is still carrying those things and in turn it's help the whole society.
Few years back I had heard of some regulations by Indian Government, through which some of the pigeon games were not legal. I tried to find out some relevant details, but couldn't get anything concrete.
Kabutarbaazi is one of the rare sports now, but still some regions of our country has string belief in these games and they follow these very sincerely. All such games have proved as good way to strengthen the bonds in a particular society.
Old Delhi has a rich culture of taking care of pigeons, feeding them, training them for various games and have fun. Pigeons are integral part of some families around Jama Majid, Delhi-6.