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The romantic gesture of releasing doves at a wedding goes back to Ancient Greek and Roman times when doves were a gift from bride to groom. Thanks to Dorra Lemanczyk, a Koh Samui resident, this gesture can be enjoyed on Koh Samui, not just for weddings but any event here on the island. We had the chance to meet with Dorra and find out a little about her, her doves and her life here on the island.
Why did you decide to bring the tradition of releasing doves to Koh Samui?
When my father passed away I decided to honor his memory by not only releasing birds, but raising them too. I have such fond memories of my father who inspired my love of birds with the fifty budgerigars he used to keep. I remember sitting in the attic of my childhood Victorian home with the pigeons that lived there. So along with my daughter, Georgia my son Ben, I created a company called Event Doves.
Is it actually doves that you release?
No, although traditionally doves are used, I, like all dove release companies globally, chose to keep white pigeons that are larger than doves, and are stronger flyers. Pigeons also have homing abilities that doves don’t have. Doves, once released, do not home and are often unable to survive. After doing plenty of research, having never kept pigeons before, I found a source in Bangkok and then, with no avian vets on the island started an incredible journey finding out everything there is to know about not only taking care of pigeons but looking after them when they are sick, a skill I mastered with the help of an avian vet in Australia.
What happened next and how do you train your birds?
I started off with just eight birds and found them to be fascinating creatures that once they mate stay with their partner for life and always lay two eggs one male and one female. I have enjoyed great success breading, despite some initial stumbling blocks, and now have twenty eight birds that I love spending time training. Every morning I let the birds out to enjoy the Samui sunshine at 7-30 and at 9-30 I feed them on special pigeon pellets that I have to import. The trained birds circle my house along with the younger untrained birds. After flying around all day I put the birds back in the coup before it goes dark and feeds them once again. Pigeons cannot see at night, which is an excellent reason why all of my releases are done in daylight.
What are the main challenges of raising, training and releasing doves?
There are challenges taking care of her pigeons, whose eggs make tasty snacks for geckos and snakes and whose young can be killed by dogs and cats, but despite the problems I would not have my life any other way. Pigeons all have their own individual personalities and can live up to 30 years so there is plenty of time to get to know them. Generally, when two white birds breed, the young are also white, but, like everything, there is always an exception to the rule. My daughter and I are planning on some’ just for fun’ racing games to give the coloured birds some purpose too.
As well as your fascination with all things avian, you have another fascinating interest too, would you share it with us?
Why not? (smiles) While I was back in the UK I started to look into the world of the Shamans and was so impressed I decided it was something I wanted to learn how to do.
What do Shamans do?
Shamans like to go journeying and take animal spirit guides along to find lost part of people’s souls and return them to their rightful owners.
How would a person lose their soul?
There are many reasons you can lose part of your soul. It can be through trauma, it can be stolen and sometimes one can be the unwitting host of somebody else’s soul.
How does it feel to be reunited with your soul?
The experience of having your soul returned can be quite overwhelming, and those who have become whole once more often need some counseling on how cope with feeling whole and protected. They will also need instruction on how to ensure they do not loose part or all of their soul again as well as how to not inadvertently steel another persons soul.