Kite flying here is serious business

The Rajasthan government is keeping alive the royal tradition of kite flying

Kite flying here is serious business


The skyline gets dotted with colourful kites, small and big since early morning and shouts and cheers of wo kata, wo mara ( that one is cut and killed) rent the air as soon as a rival kite is snapped in mid-air. To add to the fun and frolic, loud music fills the atmosphere with excitement.
Hot snacks like moong dal pakodas and sweets like gazak and pheenis are an absolute must on Makar Sankranti. No one has the time or patience to come down for lunch and instead prefer to grab a quick bite.

Gone are the days of royal kites, made of cloth, reportedly laced with silver or gold tinkles, flown from the City Palace grounds.   Legends say horse riders used to compete with each other to grab the King’s kite and whoever was lucky to return with the booty became eligible for an inam and bakshish (reward) from the ruler.
The royal patronage, in a limited sense, has now been emulated by the state government to  make kite flying a tourist attraction. The former Jaipur royals also try to keep alive the tradition  by holding a kite flying function at the City Palace grounds.
This Makar Sankranti the state government held the kite festival at the Chaugan stadium in the heart of the city, that a large number of tourists attended. They could get a feel of the kite extravaganza in the presence of acclaimed kite flyers like Babu Khan who flew 100 kites on a single string.

In sharp contrast to Babu’s great skills, there were tourists like Sarah from Canada who had to satisfy herself by just holding a kite in her hands since she could not fly a single one. For amateurs  there were folk dances and camel rides at the stadium which gave them a really different feel of the festival.
Francesla from New York found it extremely “joyful” and “colourful”. Rajani Sharma from Chicago was amazed to see the fireworks in the evening. It reminded her of the US Independence Day celebration on July 4.
Kites have evolved over the years and every year kite makers come up with new bright ideas to catch the fancy of kite lovers.

 From the traditional pariyal and tukkal tirangi (resembling fairy’s wings, small kite, tri-coloured) to the ones to be flown with lanterns after sunset, kite makers at times also design kites having pictures of popular Bollywood heroes and heroines. This year lots of kites that dotted Pink City’s skyline had pictures of the late pop star Michael Jackson. For little children, who can not handle the delicate paper kites, a glossy material comes handy with attractive stars and a moon painted all over. This year’s attraction was the smallest (one inch) and the biggest (eight feet) kite along with Mohammad Asharfi’s seven and a half feet charkhi (spool) that weighed 40 kg.

Small colourful kites are also available in the market to decorate your walls and help you keep the spirit of Makar Sankranti alive throughout the year. Like the lovely kabutar (pigeon) kites are said to have carried messages of many a lovelorn hearts long before the dawn of short messaging services. Now when communication is just a click away, kites are still serving the purpose of carrying messages.
While kites were flown by chief minister Ashok Gehlot to spread messages of literacy and health care, some innovative brains chose the flying medium for self-publicity.

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