4 days ago
Sr. correspondent at Republica.
Flying Kites during Dashain
There is a certain thrill to flying kites. Colorful kites dotting the skies of Kathmandu used to be a sign that the Dashain festival is arriving. However, the tradition of flying kites with the onset of Dashain has gradually taken a backseat due to rapid urbanization and modern lifestyle. While kids are still enthusiastic about flying kites as a sport, adults mostly don’t participate. Attributed to either hectic schedule or mere lack of interest, today's generation rarely flies kites to mark one of the most prominent festivals.
Fifty –six-year-old Shyam Krishna Darsandhari residing at Pyaphal, Kathmandu does not fly kites anymore. He said, “Today we have internet and TV, while these electronic equipment have captured all our attention. We are often indulged in our gadgets during free time. Earlier, people used to fly kites for fun and entertainment, but today we have various sources and means of entertainment at our hands.”
According to Shyam, flying kites used to be a way to meet new people and a platform to hang out with beautiful young girls who would come to the terrace for the sport. He added, “In the earlier days, it was a way of having fun and meeting new people. Life wasn’t as hectic and busy a few decades ago as it is today.”
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Kabina Maharjan also shared similar feelings about flying kites. She said, “A few years back, the sport used to be a chance to gather family and friends so as to have fun during the holidays. But these days, the tradition is slowly on the verge of extinction as no one has a minute to spare.”
Kabina said tall buildings and mess of entangled wires had made it more difficult to fly kites these days. She added, “Flying kites is not just a means of rejuvenation, but is a shared feeling of brotherhood. People these days have other activities in priority rather than flying kites under the sun.”
Dipendra Kumar Ranjitkar has been selling kites at Chikanmugal for four decades now. He said his business thrives during the festive season whereas at other times only a handful customers visit his store, Chikanmugal Changa Pasal.
Reminiscing old days Dipendra expressed, “I remember selling each kite at 15 paisa, while nowadays a kite can cost Rs 600 at most. Though you can get everything readymade in the market these days, people in the past used to put in their effort to make a strong thread by rubbing a paste called ‘manjha’ which is a combination of powered glass, sabudana, eggs and okra.”
“The task of making a strong thread used to be tedious and time consuming, so we had to work in groups. However, the availability of readymade strong threads has wiped out any chance of gathering.”
Current trends and reason for flying kites
According to Dipendra, the number of kite flyers is slightly increasing in the recent days due to the youngsters’ interest in old cultures. “However, we cannot see many kites in the sky as the settlement is spread wide and vast. Earlier, the skies used to be filled with colorful kites during Dashain as the valley’s population was thinner then.”
Talking about the reason behind flying kites during Dashain, Kabina informed, “Flying kites means sending a message to Lord Indra, the God of rain, that no more rain is required.” To this, Dependra added, “There is a saying that we have to fly kites during Dashain to inform Lord Indra that we do not need any more rainfall. And it is believed that paddy plants will wither if it rains during the month of Asoj. It is also believed that we should not fly kites before Asar as the message is to stop the rain.”
Seventeen-year-old kite enthusiast Ravi Tamang of Goldhunga shared his reason to fly kites, “The weather is pleasant during Dashain and the movement of air during this time helps kites fly higher in the sky, making it an enjoyable experience.”
Tips on Flying a Kite
When was the last time—if ever—you flew a kite? Take time this month of festivity to enjoy a timeless activity with family and friends of any age. These few guidelines will make it more enjoyable for you and others.
1. Learn how it works before venturing out
Flying a kite requires responsibility. It’s just like taking golf lessons when you get your first set of clubs.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
Many sports kites can fly as fast as 100 miles an hour and cause great harm. If you choose to fly this kind of kite, never dive or swoop over the heads of nearby people or animals, or over buildings.
3. Understand who’s in control
It won’t be you. Unpredictable wind gusts or a broken kite will cause your kite to fly out of your control. If this happens, yell to warn anyone in potential danger.
4. Stay away from other kite flyers
Keep your hands, feet, children, and pets off other people’s kites, lines, and other equipment.
5. Keep lines separate
Do not fly your kite close enough to collide, tangle with, or cut other people’s kite lines. Even if you’d like to do so in fun, it’s not funny.
6. Know your place
Keep away from areas where advanced or professionals fly their kites. Plenty of other grassy fields and open space exist for a hobbyist.
7. Pick up your mess
Clean up any debris resulting from kite flying or eating. Have fun!