Basant Kite Flying Spring Festivity in Lahore

Basant Festival is also known as Jashn-e-Baharaa’n. It is celebrated to welcome spring season by flying colorful kites in the sky. Basant is still one of the seasonal festivals celebrated across almost in all the cities of Pakistan. But in Lahore it happens to be the center of the celebrations and people from all over Pakistan comes to Lahore to enjoy Basant. Basant is a festival of colors so people also choose to wear bright yellow, red and vibrant green colors to be a part of the colors of this festival.

It is the biggest kite flying festival in the world. People come from all over the world to celebrate this festival, which makes Pakistan more popular in the world.

Basant Festival

History of Kite

Kites have been around for thousands of years and they are a part of many different cultures around the world. From an aerodynamics point of view, two of the most important users of kites were the Wright brothers. In 1899, as they were developing their theories for the control of an aircraft by using wing warping, they built a small maneuverable kite to verify their ideas. Between 1900 and 1903 they would often fly their gliders as unmanned kites at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. These experiments led directly to their successful 1903 aircraft.

Types of Kites

1. Patang

This is the most common kite. The height/width ratio is generally 1:1.2. As in all kites, the edges are reinforced by a thin thread along the circumference of the kite and the overlapping paper is glued back on to the sail. This is a tail-less kite. The tail is generally a small double triangular piece of tissue, pasted such that the bottom edge is flush with the level of the sail, with thin bamboo slivers along the outer edges for reinforcement.

2. Guddi

Almost as popular as the patang, this variation generally has a height/width ratio in reverse 1.2 : 1. In other words, the kite is taller than it is wide. The tail in this kite is generally a small tassel of tissue paper.

3. Dedh Kanni

This is a little more uncommon and is generally used in lower winds. The kite is significantly broader than the regular patang and the height/width ratio tends to be close to 1:1.5. It shares the triangular patch tail with its parent patang.

4. Tukkal

This shape is more similar to the Malaysian Wau than the patang and is almost never seen normally except at Kite Festivals. In Pakistan, though, it is still a popular design. Twin double-bows make this a very “heavy” kite and not many people possess the skill to fly it. Besides, the time and energy required to make one make it a precious object, one you wouldn’t like to lose by risking it in a kite battle.

5. Diamond Kite

Diamonds are easy to make. They are very reliable when flown with an appropriate length of tail, and perform well. Not spectacularly well like an expensive large Delta, but well enough for your average week-end kite-fancier or child flier. The popularity of Diamond kites has had some ups and downs over the centuries. Currently, it’s dominance is challenged by the huge variety of easy-to-fly alternatives which are pushed out by the modern multi million kite industry.

6. Delta Kite

The delta kite is a triangular kite, similar to the diamond. The triangle frame is covered with material and a line is attached for flying. In some designs, a smaller triangle is added to the tail of the delta to give it more support. At its core, the delta kite is an isosceles triangle with a very long base. Given its aerodynamic properties, the delta kite usually outperforms other types of flat kites.

Basant’s Value in Pakistan and Lahore

Basant is in the blood of every Lahori. This is one festival where the rich and the poor interact. For Lahore, basant means an amazing boost to the economy and the placing of Lahore on the cultural map of the world. This is a festival of the poor. Most of all basant does not cost anyone anything. Even if you don’t fly kites, the enjoyment in just being part of the fun on the roof tops is simply amazing. It is this beauty that we can sell to the world.

“Lo Phir Basant Ayee ” Play Scene
“Lo Phir Basant Ayee ” Play Scene

Night Basant

The celebrations, that would begin a night before, usually included kite flying under the flood lights on the roof, bonfires, loud music accompanied by occasional bhangras subject to the results of warring kites entangled in the night sky above and the wonderful smell of BBQAll the family members gather at one place to enjoy basant. The one who has highest roof. Women and young girls wears traditional dresses, preferably the color yellow and adorn themselves with flowers and bangles of yellow color.

night

Family Get Together

Men would reserve some amount of their earning to purchase for themselves or sponsor their young ones buying strings and a variety of kites. Aspiring kite fliers would keenly embark upon their journey of learning with little feats like offering kanni (holding the kite for the flier so he/she could easily air). That would then qualify the young participants to hold a pina, the round ball of string and eventually lead to flying a kite and participating in the ultimate battle, the paicha. Each paicha would result in one winning team, registered by their claptrap and complemented with dhol, baja and hooting. Boys on the street runs to snatch their share of happiness by looting disentangled kites sometimes flying them, at others selling them dearly.

Impact on Economy and Businesses Association

It’s actually costing the government nothing and the government can make money. The Punjab government should be announcing basant a year in advance so that people all over the world can make plans. The ban on basant is a great cultural loss for Lahore and Pakistan. Basant is the best event to show to the world the real face of Pakistan. The Punjab government, the federal government and the inept Tourism Department need to stop wasting public money and invest in preparations for a proper basant.The things we can sell from Pakistan are basant and Sufi music. Any foreigner that will visit Pakistan during these two days will go back saluting Pakistan.

Decoration of a Tree on Basant Festival
Decoration of a Tree on Basant Festival

How can we make Basant safe?

To start with, you have to ban motorcycles from Saturday night to Sunday evening because a majority of accidental deaths have been of motorcyclists. Secondly, there are two companies manufacturing these dangerous strings. The issue is not kite-flying or celebrating the festival; it’s about the deadly string. Children are buying these strings regardless of the danger these put their lives in. So, the manufacturers should be held accountable. Thirdly, aerial firing has to be stopped.

Ban on Basant

The ban on Basant is a great cultural loss to Lahore and to Pakistan. Basant is way to show the world that Pakistan is more than a dark, squalid playground of terrorists. Pakistan can use Basant as an event to improve cross-border relations, invite actors and singers, promote sale of our regional crafts, to hold exhibitions and most importantly, to give out a strong peace statement.

Following are the reasons for which basant is banned now:

1. Deadly wires: There is a cry for banning string that has been coated with glass or is made of wire as this results in hundreds of deaths each season, but this has failed. In Lahore, where the crime rate is on the rise, it’s unreasonable to pin our hopes on the incompetent police. It is unlikely that they will put in the effort required to stop the illegal manufacturing and sales of metal string.

2. Falling to their death: The fishnets and metallic wires are not the only problem. During the festival, people are up on their roof tops flying kites but there are thousands of houses in Lahore that do not have guard railings to prevent people from falling. Hundreds of children and adults fall off roof tops every Basant. Many die, many break limbs while others are left paralyzed.

3. Basant is fun for the rich: People riding bicycles and motorcycles are inconvenienced on Basant, as they are not allowed to drive their vehicles. It’s an unfair law that applies only to people belonging to a low socio-economic class.

4. Aerial firing: Another problem is of people accidentally getting shot. I can recall stories of people firing into the sky and the bullets eventually piercing right through an innocent bystander’s skull.

Despite severe criticism raised on it over years, people still like to celebrate it with all the zest and energy. The busy and hectic life of the modern city comes to ab end but these festivities keep them hooked up on their roof tops. Also, it helps more like a therapy in reviving a new spirit to refresh the upset hearts, and so to add all the energy to the life of people.

Sadly, the glories of Basant have died down since the past few years.

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