(Persia Digest) – These days, keeping homing pigeons is little by little becoming a sport. Next week will see the first round of pigeon racing in Iran.
Keeping homing pigeons, which has also come to be known as “lovemaking” in popular culture, is an old hobby in Iran. Although a starting date cannot be set for it, but historic evidence shows that Iranians have taken to this hobby from ancient times for various reasons.
The initial attraction of keeping this useful bird for man was its quality as a carrier pigeon. This gradually turned into a hobby in the passage of time. Old sources and documents indicate that keeping pigeons in Iran and other Islamic countries began to flourish at least a thousand years ago.
This tradition has always faced “popularity” and “prohibition” in Iran. It was popular over certain periods of time when it was practiced as a group hobby with neighbors and in market places al fresco; even kings, courtiers, statesmen, and famed figures were taken by the practice, leading to flourishing pigeon markets in large cities.
At times, interest in the bird went as far as prompting the rich and famous statesmen to bring certain species into Iran from overseas and create large gardens for their breeding and upkeep.
Be that as it may, this turned socially problematic at other times. Fierce competition between professional bird keepers to steal from one another in cunning ways ended up in widespread rebellions in larger rural areas such as Tehran and Isfahan. As a result, a ban was imposed on keeping pigeons in the sixties.
In recent years, nevertheless, no ban has been placed on this hobby in Iran and races are even being organized for the first time. Next week will see the first round of such a race in the city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan Province, in southwestern Iran.
Photos: Abolfazl Mahrokh/Ana