Basant .... Kite Flying Festival.

A Seasonal Festival

Today I thought to share the joy of a sporting festival. I will introduce you with a famous spring festival of India and Pakistan called Basant  that marks the pleasure and jubilation in the region. The word Basant came from Sanskrit meaning spring. With the arrival of splendid long awaited spring, streams start flowing and the trees bear flowers, birds start singing and honeybees hum from flower to flower and people find a way to express their delight.

This festival is celebrated with the start of spring. There are many stories about this centuries old traditional festival. There is no clear information about the history of Basant and  how the festival was originated. Some writers say basant was firstly celebrated in China where farmers used to fly kites to scare bird for coming in their fields. According to some , it was celebrated by Hindus to mark the start of spring.

Its origin is unknown to majority and whatever was the originating point it is seasonal festival of Indo-Pak Sub continent. It is also called Basant Panchami is actually the herald of spring , it marks the growth of wheat and blooming yellow mustard flowers. According to the fact many females and males dress in yellow color dresses. Females wear yellow and green dress and males use scarf or yellow turbans. Before partition of India and Pakistan Muslims , Hindus and Sikh used to celebrate this together but now it is not much famous among Hindus. It is now celebrated in Punjab ( Indian and Pakistan) where Sikh community from Indian Punjab and Muslim community from Lahore Pakistan celebrate it with great enthusiasm. This festivals have religious aspects for Hindus but for Muslims in Pakistan it is just about kite flying and kite fighting.

By the arrival of spring as rivers of Punjab start gushing people start to equip themselves with kites , strings for the celebration of Basant in Lahore. Joy of spring is enriched by Basant celebration. This festival is more popular in Androon Lahore (inner or old part of the city) with few other areas of Punjab.

Millions of the admirers crowed reveal the kites of different colors with the help of string rolls ( dor) that seem to fly to heavens lifted from rooftops from dawn to dusk. Before it was a thread but now people have started using chemical , grounded glass or metal wires. The purpose is that during competition one party have to cut the thread of other party to bring down opponents’ kite to win. Many different types of fighter kites are used for kite fighting. Cards are printed for Inviting family and friends to join the celebration and special food is prepared for the occasion to serve the guests. All day the celebration continues and people do not sleep at night , during day people fly colorful kites and at night white kites are used so it become visible in light.

Over the years it became very famous and many people from all around the world travel and visit Lahore for this celebration. Pakistan was making seven billion rupees by tourism during basant festival. People show their enthusiasm as the Creator Inflames love in hearts during spring and the whole day of basant  is marked with festivity, the artist and singers are busy throughout the year to bring something special on this occasion . There are many famous songs about Basant that reflect the culture , festivity, diversity and liveliness and romance of Punjab . People dance on the songs that are played on loud speakers during kite flying with beats of drums in the back ground. Many homes and hotels book their roof tops for the celebration. Festival is all about kites , party ,sweets, merry making , fun and air is enamored with screams of … BO KATA( winners shout after cutting thread of opponents). Different days are described for the festival throughout Punjab to keep the enthusiasm of Basant alive.

Whole sky is covered with the flying kites of different colors. It seems that the sky have been painted with beautiful flying objects. Kites with variety of shapes, sizes and colors are used during event. Some youngsters seem busy in dancing , some with kite flying some children carry long rods to collect kites that are cut to fly them again but some collect to resale them.

Unfortunately over the years this festival has lost its original form and transformed to a bloody game and have become very controversial as the traditions of acceptance , patience and respect are uprooted from society. Sometimes very serious fights break during event resulting in loss of lives. This sporting festival has lost its distinctive features and is termed as killjoys by masses in Pakistan after the use of chemical string many lives are lost.  Sometimes the chemical string that is used by enthusiasts comes on roads and cut the necks of children or people walking in many cases often split the neck of motor cyclists. Some youngsters also do firing in air with different types of guns and it cause heavy loss of lives. Keeping in mind the loss and disadvantages Punjab (Pakistan) government have banned the celebration in 2006. The government have made it illegal to fly , make , trade or sell kites, in addition to this, prohibited manufacturing of kite string. Now under law , any violator can be imprisoned for 3 years or can have penalty of Rs.100,000 or both.  Government of Pakistan had suffered the loss of millions of rupees ( Currency of Pakistan) as three grid stations caught fire because of use of metal wire for flying kites.

A large number of people specially women were associated with kite making , most of them are illiterate and do not have any other skill to get their livelihood. According to a report 150,000 people were related to kite making in 2005. Some of them were related to this business from more than ten years. Due to heavy charge and penalty people are scared and cannot keep this business running.

I would like to draw attention of Punjab government on the point that this was a great festival that not only helped people but also government in many ways some got their livelihood from it and some got happiness and fun by enjoying. I hope government will not let vanish this colorful festival. I believe government must allow kite flying but special zones must be reserved where people can enjoy sport and poor people from Punjab can get their source of income. Government must have strict check on chord and make proper regulations relating it’s gauge , material. An alternative employment opportunity must be provided for the women and men who were related to kite flying. Special precautionary measures must be taken on roads to avoid any causality specially for motorcyclists. Government must also ensure the use of helmets by motorcyclists. As there are many sports around the world which brought large scale loss of lives but no one banned the sport but tried to find the ways to make it less harmful.

Multitude of Pakistan are saddened by the decision as it was a way for them to relax and look forward that government will lift the ban in accordance with the orders of court on long awaited festival and give people a chance to enjoy extravaganza of the sport festival by indulging the jubilation with sportsman spirit  .

I hope that the horizon of Punjab will be brightened with the fanciful kites and air will be full of Boo Katta sounds soon.  

What do you think about this festival and if you know that it is also celebrated in some other parts of the world then I will be happy to know that. 

Thank you for your time and I hope to have you again.

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