Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The Dove-cooing contest in Thailand began as a leisure activity, the hobby of a particular group of men who found peace, pleasure, and enjoyment in listening to the songs of the singing doves. Some hoped for good luck in raising doves with propitious characteristics. The hobby developed into a sport through the initiative of the Association of Dove Breeders in Thailand. The Association's encouragement of dove breeding found enthusiastic support from dove lovers in all regions, especially in Southern Thailand where many prize-winning dives came from. The study presents the training and care of doves, selected scenes of the contest, the rules by which the singing doves are judged, and analyzes multiple structural and ideational dynamics involved in the event. Not simply a folk sport, an animal sport in and of itself, the dove-cooing contest is about the dove fancier. But it also transcends the individual. In its national societal context, the people who organize and participate in the event are more socially and ethnically diverse, more socially aware, and more engaged in the needs of the community. The contest facilitates boundary-crossings: ethnic, social economic, regional, and international - as diverse groups of dove fanciers enter their prized doves into the arena and hope to be a winner. It is a "deeper play" in the Geertzian sense.

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