Kite Flying, Sankranthi and 2011

Sankranthi means return of war cries, crowds and battle zones. If you thought this has anything to do with the Sri Krishna report or TRS, then you are wrong. It is the kite duels and hectic activity on the skies of Hyderabad. One of the very unique things about the culture of Hyderabad.

Probably this is the farthest south that the Indian kite fighting is seen in such scale and enthusiasm. This has been happening for decades or should I say centuries now. Nobody seems to know which great grandfather was the first to fly kites in Hyderabad city.

The joy and pain of cutting others kites or losing your kite to an opponent makes the process engaging. It is just not the same experience when the kite is lost to the tree. On a similar note, I do not understand the fun of participating in an International kite festival – fancy kites that are flown into the sky. Boring, very boring. I feel sorry for those ‘International kite festival’ enthusiasts.

Kite flying requires participation from others. It is no fun to just fly your kite high and watch it. It is boring. The real fun comes from engaging in kite fighting duels. Some level of skill in flying and winning kite duels is important. Otherwise, you may lose the motivation to take the next kite and fly again after losing the past three! This is not for the faint-hearted or the unskilled.

At Sankranthi, the duels sometime become battle zone when every kite in the street gets involved in the same duel. Not only do you have to know kite flying, know the ‘art of kite fighting’, but also have a number of kites ready to replace your lost kites (Nobody is invincible in kite flying!).

At the same time, your neighbors should share the same level of enthusiasm. Otherwise, it becomes a deemed “boring kite zone” of Hyderabad city. For this reason, the earlier urbanized parts of Hyderabad show increased number of visitors on this holiday. In fact, many Hyderabadi’s working and living outside of Hyderabad (both in India and abroad) come to Hyderabad at this time to enjoy the fun. This is something that just cannot be recreated anywhere else. And what great time to have such fun with friends and family.

For this reason, may people in the city find a friend or relatives place for Sankranthi kite flying to have a good time. The host is happy too, because the more the kite enthusiasts, the better the excitement (and more kites available to fly!). Plus, kite fliers typically are so engrossed in flying the kites that they make few requests (Some water please, if you can! Otherwise, don’t bother I have to take care of that red kite guy).

In many apartments in real Hyderabad, it is not surprising to find a dozen people flying kites at the same time. Whereas the recently urbanized parts of Hyderabad definitely do not have the same atmosphere. You will not find this in Banjara Hills, Jubilee hills or Cyberabad. So if you wasted time looking for some good kite fun, next time step into real Hyderabad.

Some places like Begum Bazar having high concentration of passionate kite enthusiasts. These avid enthusiasts put out halogen lamps out at night (pointing to the sky) across entire neighborhoods to light up the sky to fly kites late in to the night. Funny, how the day and night matches inspire creativity!

Every kite duel enthusiast swears by their favorite kite shop. Many will purchase from Begum bazar, Gulzar house or Dhoolpet. A few get manja from places like Rajkot, Surat and Rae Barelli to get the extra edge over their opponent. There are many varieties of kite sizes and manja types to choose from. And shopping a few days before the event is no fun either with the reputed shops swamped with customers doing last minute shopping (Indian style!)

If anyone needs to find if they are in cosmopolitan Hyderabad or not, they just need to visit Hyderabad on Sankranthi. If the kites are flying then they are in real Hyderabad. Same with apartments, if no adults flying kites in the apartment these are all newbies to Hyderabad city brought up in a different culture and not very enthusiastic about Hyderabad culture.

Thanks to the extended vacation this year, school going kids got a lot of practice in kite flying this year. I am sure the kite shop owners did better business than earlier. My kite shop guy gave me fresh kites this year, last year he passed on the year before production. So, overall Hyderbadis had a great kite flying season. This one was also long since the kite flying lasted 4 days – Thu, Fri, Sat and Sunday! You can’t expect more than that. For sure, we have added some tan and a few cuts to the fingers. So, time to say goodbye to Sankranthi kite flying this year and looking forward to next year.