Indian kite flying trends
Kite flying is one of the most pleasant pastimes, enjoyed by millions all around the world, across all the cultures and age ranges. Kites have today become a popular sport with kite making and kite flying competitions being held. They have also become common during festivals and celebrations.
Though they are found to have been originated in China, k ites have always held a special place in the Indian culture and tradition. Today, kites have evolved and have been welcomed by countries and cultures all over the world – each one reforming kite flying and making it their own unique tradition.
History of kites in India
Kite flying has a very fascinating history in India. The introduction and existence of kites in India dates back to the times when the Mongols invaded India. Kites are known to have come into existence in around the thirteenth century in India, through the artwork of various prominent Indian poets who praised and spoke about kites in their verses.
Kites rose to prominence in the Indian culture and heritage, during the Mughal period of 1526-1857. This was the time when the Mughal emperors Babar, Akbar and Shah Jahan reined their kingdoms. The Mughal emperors really helped in spreading the tradition of kite tradition and making kite flying a significant activity, by rewarding the best players with handsome monetary awards. This way, they acted as patrons of kite flying and also chess.
That said, however, they did not themselves participate in the sport, as the monarchs did not believe in treading the ground for such sports, and thus would often observe kite flying from their windows in their private quarters.
A lot of literary works by Indian authors and poet mention kites as “patang” or as “guddi”. The works indicate how kite flying was enjoyed and seen as an activity popular and important enough to enter such significant works. These texts have not only glorified kite flying but now provide us with a glimpse as to how kites were made and looked at during those times. Many such works suggest that kites were made out of paper, back then, and were attached to a thread that was held in the hands.
Kite flying occasions in India
Kite flying has slowly crept into our celebrations and festivals. Today, a lot of festivals, all across India, at various points of the year, are dedicated to the tradition of kite flying, or include kite flying as a part of the celebrations.
Basant Panchami - kite flying
This is a seasonal festival of the state of Punjab, falling on Basant Panchami. The festival involves a lot of competitions that are organized, such as the kite-fighting – ruling the sky and keeping their kite flying till the end to be the winner, the most beautiful kite, the biggest kite, and many more.
Uttarayan - kite festival
Uttarayan is one of the biggest festivals that popularize kite flying in the entire world! Uttarayan basically marks the day when winter officially ends and spring begins. On this day, the entire city gathers on rooftops and gets engaged in kite flying. This International Kite Festival in Gujarat also attempted to enter the Guinness Book of Records for the most number of countries participating – a whopping 42 countries – in the year 2012.
Kite flying festival in Delhi
Kite Flying Festival in Delhi occurs in the month of January. This is a special festival that is held in Delhi to commemorate the passion and enthusiasm of kite flying. It is held near Palika Bazaar at Connaught Place in Delhi. People from all over the country and some from other countries too, come to Delhi to participate in this festival. This gives kite flying a global dimension. Various competitions are held with the major ones being the Fighter Kite Competition and the somber Display. A grand dinner is then arranged where all the participants enjoy the gala time, heightening the festive spirit!
Kite flying on Pongal
Pongal is a famous South Indian festival, celebrated in the state of Tamil Nadu. People fly kites on their rooftops or on the beach on this day and go to the extent of mixing grinned tube-light pieces with rice water and applying it on the threads, so as to make their kite invincible!
Kite flying on Independence day
Kite flying is believed to be symbolic of freedom. The slogan “Go Back Simon” used during the protest against the Simon Commission in 1927 was scripted on kites by the Indian patriots. They basically used kites as a medium of protest. Ever since then, kite flying on Independence Day has become a tradition and is still continued with pomp!
Mysore Dussehra - kite festival
The Mysore Dussehra Kite Festival is one of the most important festivals of the state of Karnataka and is celebrated on Vijayadashami, after the nine-day long festival of Navaratri. The city of Mysore is lit up with soaring LED kites and the Mysore Palace is also brightly lit up for the celebrations!
Two main types of kites
Indian fighter kites (Patang): A simple rectangular or diamond kite is used for competitions such as kite-fighting. They have a very basic structure and are very normal looking as their main purpose is to fight. Their strength lies in the material used and their thread (called ‘manjha’)
Designer Kites: today, kites have drastically evolved. Many designer kites are flown on various occasions and for various purposes. These kites are extremely pompous and grand. Some examples are box kites, sled kites, compound kites, sode kite, and many more.
Saving this tradition
Kite flying is deeply rooted in the heart of Indian history. Indians have known to be flying kites and holding competitions, all over. In fact, Gujarat, a state in India, is one of the most popular hubs in the entire world for kite-flyers. Or at least it was. Today, with all the advancements and introduction of high-tech gadgets every day the kite-flying has become an extremely rare activity. It is like an endangered animal, living at the brink of its extinction.
Kite flying also has a lot of health benefits! Being an outdoor activity, it allows us to experience nature. This, in turn, helps in lowering anxiety and depression and also helps improve pain management. Not only is kite flying a feast to the sore eyes, but it also helps regulate the eye muscles and nerves better when you try to look and focus on a flying kite and tracking its movements. This also allows us to stretch our shoulders and neck so our cervical spine and spinal muscle tension are maintained. This promotes the flexibility of ligaments and vertebral joints and prevents degenerative changes. It is also believed to regenerate energy and has a way of reducing the building stress and tension
In order to help rekindle the spark of kite-flying, a lot of measures are being taken.
People from all across India are organizing activities and workshops to promote kite-flying. Many schools are also helping by organizing events of kite-flying so as to revive the tradition and encouraging students to cultivate it as a habit.
In the spirit of keeping the tradition alive, the Brunei Darussalam Kite Association is planning to introduce the kite-flying tradition to schools through workshops, competitions and activities all over the country.
Kite-flying is one of our oldest cultures. It is our tradition. It is our pride. And we must hold on to it!