Kite-flying enthusiasts have gathered from around the world for the 19th International Kite festival in Ahmedabad. More than 163 kite-flying enthusiasts from 36 countries will compete in the five-day long festival which starts today. Each and every kite is unique in color, designs, and size. Some are more than 50 feet in diameter.
Kites has a very ancient kite tradition. Most people believe that kites were brought into India by Chinese travelers F Hien and Huin Tsang. Patang or guddi as it is more commonly known, are made of tissue paper, and bamboo. And almost all Indian kites have a very similar shape and that is of a diamond tissue paper with a center spine and a single bow intersecting the spine.
Kites are a part of everyday life in India. The anxiety and the energy that runs over many a rooftops during pench larana or kite fighting evokes immense nostalgia. The tradition is passed onto kids from their elder brother or father or cousins. or they will pick up the tricks of the trade while assisting their seniors by holding the charkhi or the roll on which glass coated thread or manjha is wound, and keeping the line free of tangles. If you are a good assistant, you would grow up to be a good kite fighter!
Many a afternoons will be spent on the rooftop in kite fighting. Many take it as a leisure activity, and others use it as a means to vote! Many toss a coin and set the rules of distance, and position of attack.
So what exactly is kite fighting? Once the kite flyers indicate that they are ready, the referee gives the signal for the battle to begin. Your objective is to cut the opponent’s kite string by either giving dheel (by leeting out line) or by khainch (pulling the string tightly). Once the kite is cut, it belongs to the person who cuts it, and is declared the winner.
Kites are also an important part of the festival Makar Shakranti which is held on January 14 of every year. Millions of kites will fly in the sky on this festival. International festivals in Jaipur and Ahmedabad coincide with this festival.
Just a fragile piece of paper and two pieces of bamboo, but still such an integral part of our lives and tradition. For centuries kites have connected the people by crossing the boundaries of caste, color, reliogion, and even nationality, and soared the spirits of each into limitless blue skies.