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November 9, 2018

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Vendors on cloud nine as kites start filling Sindh’s skies with colours

Vendors on cloud nine as kites start filling Sindh’s skies with colours

HYDERABAD: Rajoo Thakur, a small-scale shopkeeper in village Landhi, on the outskirts of Hyderabad city, has displayed varieties of kites and strings for sale at his shop, located right in front a ground where children are always busy kite flying, running to all sides and trying to cut others lines, solely for entertainment.

Thakur also sells a variety of edible items for children at his small shop, but he believes that kites, in this season, are more profitable for him. He brings a stockpile from Old Pakka Qila neighbourhood in Hyderabad city, where kites of all sizes and varieties are available for sale.

Not only shopkeepers from suburbs, but also from many areas of different districts also travel to the major kite market to buy stockpiles as per their capacity and demand in their areas.

"I sell kites ranging from Rs3 to Rs20 for local children and youths. Buying kites depends on affordability of children. Otherwise, in wholesale market the prices of kites go up to Rs200-500 or more, depending on size, design, decoration, composition of colours, and music tunes,” Thakur said.

He recalls the old blissful days when, as a child, he used to make kites on his own like other children. They would move to open grounds to fly their kites, standing on their feet and running around the field the whole day. In his understanding the culture of kite flying in modern era has changed.

“These days we can see some kites are made with musical tunes, whistle and other forms of sounds. Like this, kite designers have become a lot more creative, making kites like birds, butterflies, dragons, ships, and even human faces. The prices of these kinds of kites are higher compared to those we sell here,” Thakur said.

Obviously, kite flying does not have any specific season. Many people call it the part of spring festivities. But shopkeepers believe they it’s during the wintering season, when local children are more attracted to have fun through flying kites.

There is a tradition that children, in groups or individually, prefer to fly kites in the open grounds. For some individuals rooftops of their homes, streets, and even farmlands are equally good placed to have kite-flying-fun.

Herdsmen take kites and fasten the same with plants in wild to see them flying the next day. They have their own as well as a different kind of experience of kite flying, while shepherding their herds.

Besides colourful kites, Thakur has put on displayed a variety of strings used to fly kites. About the cost of recreational activity, he says it depends on people's affordability.

"I live in a rural area and children here mostly come from low-income families and they do not have a lot of pocket money to enjoy themselves like the wealthy children. Thus, I sell cheaper kites, which the children love to buy and fly on their rooftops and open grounds,” he said.

The kite shop is popular in the entire area, comprising more than 40 villages, where children from their villages come buy ready-made kites of their choice.

Though, many smart children can build kites, using paper and plastic sheets, majority of them buys select coulourful kites from the shop. They want to attract people with the colour, size, and shape of their kites.

Ashfaq Rao, a multi-experience local resident, says earlier only mature children, having kite-building skills used to make them for themselves or their younger siblings by using bamboo sticks.

“The kite-makers used flexible sticks, made mostly from date-palm trees, for the purpose, but now those trees have vanished from the area and there are no other trees, whose twigs can be used for building an artful paper-made kite,” Rao said.

Traditionally, young skilled kite-makers fly kites with tails, while others fly them without tails.

Traveling to villages and suburban areas, one can see throngs of children flying kites in the open grounds, making the sky colourful. Though the sport of cricket is a major recreation for rural children, kite flying still has its attraction.

Kites and strings are a big business in the rural areas and suburbs. Different types of strings are used like powdered-glass-coated strings, which are sharp and injure people, passerby, or even the children, who fly them.

Though, it is a very popular pastime all around the country, both in rural as well as urban centers, sometimes, the government authorities ban this recreation because of fatal injuries caused by glass-coated strings.

However, during the spring festival, kite flying competitions are held across the country and the skies are clouded with colourful kites.

Kites have a long history and people, individually or in groups, use different types of kites and strings. They display their unique artfully made kites during the local entertainment events.

Some elderly people, who have their own experience, said now this entertainment looks like a dangerous sports, in which participants try to cut others kites down using sharp strings that are made from materials like certain chemicals, metal, nylon, etc. Otherwise, kite flying is recreation rather than popular sports or fight, they added.

Kite flying does not have any fixed period like spring festivals, many people fly them during national days and religious occasions. In different countries different kinds of kites are flown. Some of them are huge and heavy. Many countries have kite museums, focusing on historical kites, preserving the country’s kite traditions. Some scientists have used kites for measuring distances, atmospheric conditions, lightning, and testing the wind.

The wholesale market in Hyderabad city looks like a kite exhibition. There you can find kites of a numerous varieties, sizes, colours, shapes, sounds, and prices, which attract more young people to buy them. The local shopkeepers believe that the sale of kites is the most profitable business right now.

They consider it a winter item, which draws children who want to have some fun. Obviously, the kite season goes on till the end of February and March, but the tradition of kite flying is timeless.

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