Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kite Flying

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are related to kite flying. I dont know when I took to it, but it was one thing I really loved and spent, more or less, all my pocket money on. There's something about kite flying which makes it so addictive so enjoyable?? Maybe the delight of watching the flight of the kite which is controlled by you and the way the kites soars in the sky. Or maybe the fact that the kiteflyer views the kite as an expression of his/her free self. Whatever. I just loved flying kites.

Early days were not so good when I was just about learning to fly the kite. Many a kites have been torn or caught up in the trees or the electric wires in an attempt to make them fly. Finally after a numerous failed attempts one day I did manage to fly the kite. But the joy was, well, shortlived. Some seasoned kiteflyer, with a heart of stone, sweepeed his kite low and off went my kite.. "Aai-Bo"... this the expression which you hear from your victorious opponent when you loose a "Paitch".

Before I go any further let me introduce you to the terms and lingo of kite flying. Kite is Patang, the line/string used to fly the kite is Manjha, Sadhi or Tool. Manjha is the thinnest of the strings with a coating of glue and ground glass (known as kaanch burada) which makes the string very sharp and potentially capapble of giving cuts n nicks. I've heard of steel burada manjha but haven’t had a chance to use it. Manjha is mostly colored red, black, green, yellow, blue, orange..

Sadhi is a thicker, coarser white colored thread. It doesnt have any burada and is usually deployed after the Manjha while flying, coz its easier to fly with Sadhi than Manjha.

Tool is the thickest of the three, much thicker than Sadhi. The sheer strength of the string is enough to win you a paitch. It is usually used only with large kites as small kites can’t support the weight of tool.

A paitch is a mid air dual of two kites, in which both the kite flyers vie to cut the kite string of the other. Now kiteflying is no ordinary sport and certainly not for the fainthearted. Paitchs are a matter of skill, honor and on rare occasions life and death. Many a times the seasoned kiteflyer would stick a 10, 20 or 50 rupee note to his kite, which in a way talks about the guy's confidence in his skill. Why I am saying 'guy', is coz this is mostly a boy's thing. I don’t recall seeing any girl indulge in it. Though my sis did ask me from time to time to let her handle the kite for some time but she would soon hand it back to me.

Kite Flying has been a popular sport in many countries like Japan, Korea, Indonesia, France, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Nepal, Pakistan and India and the kite festivals witness participation from people of these countries.

Traditionally in India kites have been made of paper n bamboo. Though there is no law which says it can't be made from silk n bamboo or any other kind of material. These days it’s common to see kites being made out of plastic with some kind advertisement on it. Usually some Rajdarbar gutka, Shambhu Khaini, beedi, tea etc. The advantage of plastic kites is that they don’t tear easily, so one kite could last days if u are not interested in having a paitch with anyone. Secondly they can be flown in rain also.

The design of the kite is very important as each one has a separate name. By design I do not mean the framework and the arrangement of bamboo sticks. The design on the paper, is made by sticking together pieces of paper in various fashion. Apart from making the kite beautiful, the sticking together of many paper strips to make the kite also makes sure that the kite would last longer. I have drawn whatever I could remember. Hope they are correct.

Now the kite season is different in diff parts of the country. Up north, and i am talking mostly about Delhi, summers is the time when u see people flying kites. The peak is the Independence Day when every guy worth his salt will pull out his kites and indulge in the activity. After Independence Day it starts to slow down. Raksha Bandhan is also another day when people like to fly kites. In the west its Makar Sankranti when you get to see the most kites. South, I believe its Diwali time. No idea what it is in the east.

So this Independence Day, make sure u do fly kites, and what better way to do it than at

Kite flying DBM 24, Nehru Park, 4pm, 16th August '08. (Details)