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.
Image used from wikipedia.org
  • Hi Anna,

    Kites’ flying is very popular in Punjab, I am confused to call this thing sports or entertainment, I personally rate it more of a entertainment then sports. But personally I don’t like this wastage of time, money & resources. Since new types of threads are available in the markets this has turned in to the game of death. Lots of time government tried to lift the ban of this death game but thankfully they have not succeeded .i think we should find healthy ways of entertainment.

  • Hello Niekka
    These are such activities that are loved and enjoyed by all but because of some negative activities of few ruin the happiness of many.

  • Hello Pragya
    It is celebrated actually was celebrated as now a days it is banned. Everyone from old to small kid is mad for this event.

    Thank you.

  • Hello Jen
    Yes it is in best interest of many skilled workers.

    Thank you.

  • Hello Kumar

    Thank you for your time.
    I hope people will be more responsible and the suffering of poor will be reduced.

  • I love learning about cultural things. The kite festival sounds like it was very beautiful and happy. That is the type of stuff I like to enjoy. I love being around colors and happy people. I hope that the government will allow the festival to return so it can help the community and bring togetherness.

  • nice writeup…. i didn't know that kite festival is celebrated in Pakistan as well…. I am thrilled to know this…. good work 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing about this colorful festival. It's always sad to see traditional celebrations fade away and I hope Basant continues!

  • Hi Anna,

    Its amazing how people can go to extremes for fun and then kill one another for something so stupid.

    What government has done is a result of people not being responsible citizens. I don't think it's government's fault that they needed to pass a law to block the festival as a blanket statement for everyone. People forced government to find a solution to a problem what was so uncontrollable. it's sad but it's the truth.

    I think people need to take personal responsibility and parents need to teach their kids value of compassion and care and love for others so the upcoming generations can learn to appreciate the freedom they get so they can live in harmony.

    By the way, I enjoyed the way you have described the whole thing and I do have sympathy for those who are losing business. You've done a tremendous job with this post.

    Regards,
    Kumar

  • Welcome Crystal to my post.
    It is always nice to learn about other cultures and their festivals.
    Thank you.

  • I love festivals of every kind. I learned about festivals from different countries when I took Mythology in college. It is neat to see how the rest of the world celebrates their seasons and holidays. Thanks for sharing! =)

  • Thank you Cygnsll for you words.
    I appreciate your time.
    Yes it was supposed to celebrate spring but when you know competition comes , there is a war for win . Some do not have any sportsman spirit and feel everything is fair.

  • Yes I was a reason of smile for many . I hope this colorful festival will revive with ful bloom with spring again.
    Thank you Donna

  • Amazing story and something I was unaware of. I remember watching a film about the kite flying between boys and it was very competitive. I just was not aware how much so and what lengths people would go to in the flying.
    There are may kite flying festivals in Europe but it is more about the flying of kites with no competition.. Beautiful to see them all flying.
    Thank you for the post and educating me.

  • Thinking of a sky full of brightly coloured kites makes me smile. It is sad that this festival has turned into something dangerous.

  • Hello William
    Yes you are right about that. People who were really interested in this festival and always took this as a sport and a fun activity are negotiation the government. We are waiting what will be the decision , even court have accepted to remove the ban. Let's see.
    Thank you for your support.

  • Yes it was very popular festival in Pakistan and children really loved it but it is banned now , unfortunately.

  • Yes it was nice but sadly it do not exit anymore .. because of some irresponsible people.

  • Hello Andleeb,
    I found the article enlightening from a cultural perspective. It is a shame that a festival that brought such joy and happiness has disintegrated into violence and death. Perhaps if the government banned kite fighting altogether and allowed only for the sale of kites to celebrate in a joyous manner as was custom, then there could be an end to the death and violence and a return to the joys of the custom.

  • Tim

    One of the things I associate with Asia, all of Asia, is the kites you see in most places. So graceful and usually attached to a very happy child of group of children. We need more of such things in the world…not less.

  • The festival sounds like its very nice.

  • Yes some are happy to see how the kite flies freely , it actually shows their desire to fly like kites ….. But you know world is full of different type of people , who can change the meaning on anything….. as you have read what some have done with kite flying .. and how changed this in a death game.

  • Hello Dana
    People standing on different roof tops , cut kites of each other and the one who will cut more kites , will win.
    Just to win game and use illegal ways or unfair means to win. Some also have bet for money and stuff … sometimes.. not much

  • Thanks Anna for the educational piece. It took me to my kite flying days which I barely recall now and how freely a kite flies. Now this is ironic to think that a freely flying kite can lead to loss of life. After all a kite represents tamed freedom to me (freely flying under control) and so people should exercise their freedom in a tamed way as well.

  • I was shocked to read that a kite flying festival could turn into a violent event. What are they fighting for?

  • Hello Susanna
    Yes it is really sad.
    Thank yo for your time.

  • Thank you JeriWB for your kind words.
    I hope people will understand some day that their small act of irresponsibility is adding bitterness in someone's life.

  • How sad that this joyous, spiritual celebration turned into one of danger

  • Sadly, I'm not surprised that people are harmed in relation to this festival. At least posts like yours and the actions of other well-minded people are helping to bring greater awareness to the cause.

  • Yes kids love this festival as it is full of colors and fun. I also hope so as everyone is emphasizing government to review it's decision and observe penalty on use of chemical wire

  • I hope that government will remove ban on Basant and people will take it again as game not death festival.

  • Yes you are right just because of few irresponsible people many are suffering.
    Thank you for yor time Suzanne

  • It depends on people how they take an sport

    Thank you Christina

  • I hope so that people will start taking kite flying as sport and will behave reasonably and government will review it's decision
    Thank you Becc

  • This sounds like a beautiful festival, and I can hear how much you love it in your descriptive words. My kids would love this, and I hope it can find a way to survive without harming people.

  • Catarina

    Kite festivals are beautiful. It's an experience the audience will remember.

  • What is the motivation of those who were turning their kites into instruments of injury and death? So much of our world and her people are being ruined by the actions of a determined, misguided few. It is too bad the celebration of Basant had to fall victim to them too.

  • I had no idea that such a festive celebration of spring could take such a devastating turn.

  • How very sad that something so bright, beautiful and full of meaning could be brought down by a sad few. It would be lovely to think that the tide will turn and the benefits will be seen by all.

  • This beautiful festival was really turned in a death game cutting so much throats .. many necks were slit by chemical string…
    Yes I heard that part in news recently about the origin of festival many centuries ago.
    Thank you for your time

  • Thank you so much Debra
    You are right in saying it was part of our culture that is destroyed by some foolish moves by irresponsible people.

  • Yes the scene and the sounds of BOO katta were wonderful …
    Whole horizon used to be full with colorful rainbows
    I hope the same.
    Thank you

  • There is large number of people specially women who is affected by this decision.

    I hope so we in Paksitan can enjoy this game again

  • Thank you so much Lenie for your time
    I hope so . As because of few many or suffering in many ways.
    Some can not enjoy game or festival and some can not have their livelihood.

  • Yes Tuhin you surly know about Punjab Pakistan and how enthusiastic they are. They are still struggling to restore the festival… lets see what happens

  • yes this is sad aspect
    Thanks for your time

  • The festival sounds lovely. I didn't know that kites where used to scare away birds. Kites certainly do appear in the spring. I hope a way can be found to bring back the color of the festival and not the danger.

  • I had never heard of the festival and it sounds like a such a beautiful way to celebrate. Not only are you having fun outdoors, but it's such a lovely way to gather, it would be so beautiful. It's a shame that the behaviour of a few was so detrimental to so many. To lose an important part of your culture because a few people are too foolish to participate properly seems like an extreme response. Hopefully lessons will be learned where they are needed and the festival will return.

  • It sounded like it used to be a wonderful kite festival until the kite fights began. I can just picture the sky filled with colourful kites. Hopefully it can get back to the way it used to be.

  • It really is sad that such a colourful and inclusive celebration as Basant has met this fate. I knew of the issue but was not aware that the contribution to employment and the economy was so large. I hope that it can return in its original form maintaining the pleasure but removing the danger. Thanks for sharing.

  • How unfortunate that something so wonderful should turn so wrong. I loved the idea of the Chinese using kites to keep birds away at planting time. Isn't it a shame that a lovely festival turned bad enough that you're calling for government oversight. I hope the people themselves will realize what they've done and change back to the old way of just having fun.
    Lenie

  • Even here in India, the tradition is fading with each passing year. Great post and nicely described! I can recall those days when we used to celebrated this festival with huge excitement and enthusiasm!

  • nice calculated information……there r lot of argumnts in favour of basant and also it,s against…..its nice and colourfull festival if it stays safe……but am a eye vitness of it,s killings….the rope which used for kite flying is glass plated which is killer…..i saw a young guy who was a bike rider and victom of kite rope…..its slaughter in minuits….

  • Thank you Jay …. it was a nice colorful festival and all of us miss that …

  • Jay

    Very nice write up. I agree that you're government should regulate between so that the festival can safely take place again.