Pigeon racing, a sport barely known beyond some city neighbourhoods, is gaining popularity and attracting racers from other cities.
Bengaluru is the new hub for the sport after Kolkata and Chennai, according to insiders. This year’s season is in full swing.
The Karnataka Racing Pigeon Club (KRPC), the oldest organisation dedicated to the sport in Bengaluru, is busy hosting a tournament.
Y Suresh, its president, said more and more participants are coming to the city, and from across India. Homer, Giribaz.
The sport involves two styles of racing. Homer is when a pigeon wings its way to a designated place in the city from distances ranging from 200 to 1,000 km. In Giribaz, a pigeon has to fly within a given space and display its endurance.
Homer tournaments take place from December to March, and Giribaz in June and July. In Homer racing, a participant is allowed to release 15 to 20 birds from the starting point.
Srinivas, a participant from Kolar, said:”We participate in Homer racing. We come to Bengaluru because the club and tournaments are here. People from all over the state come to the city to participate and there is bigger participation here. The weather is much cooler in Benglauru, making it easier for the pigeons to fly.”
Twice the number Last year, only 15 pigeon owners came to Bengaluru for Homer racing, organised by the Karnataka Racing Pigeon Club.
The overall numbers are higher. The city hosts at least 20 races in a season, drawing 3,600 owners and around 10,000 pigeons Gurumurthy Ramachandran, a resident of Shivajinagar, was attracted to pigeon racing in the 1970s, when he was just 15.
“Those days areas in Bengaluru competed with one another,” he recalled. Tournaments are sponsored by pigeon lovers and businessmen. Winners get cash prizes and two-wheelers.
K Manna, a resident of Okalipuram, said 15 to 18 tournaments are conducted in different parts of the city, mostly in Cottonpet, Nagarabhavi, Padarayanapura, SR Nagar, Halasuru, and Srirampura.
Pervez, a mechanic in Shivajinagar, said participants are picked by lots and matches are then scheduled. Racing usually starts at 6 am and goes on till the pigeon comes back to its perch. Referees decide winners and adjudicate disputes.
Visual appeal A good pigeon is one that pulls off rolls in the air. Just plain flying disqualifies it. Betting is prohibited, but it takes place clandestinely within groups. Parents believe if their children are involved in pigeon racing, they stay away from crime and bad company. “Taking care of pigeons calls for patience and dedication,” said Syed, a racing enthusiast in Shivajinagar.