Free Press Journal

Kati Patang! Kite-flying snatched from us by NGOs, claim children

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Mumbai : Kite-flying, one of the most fascinating parts of the Makar Sankranti festival seems to be slowly losing its grip on the city as the popularity op the tradition-cum-sport of flying kites dimishes with time.

Kite-flying is much more fun with with ‘Tilgud Laddoo’ and ‘Chikki’– the trademark sesame and jaggery crackers — that are made during winter season. ‘Sankranti’, which is celebrated every year on January 14 or January 15, is dear among the children of the city, especially because of the kite-flying activity.

A ten-year-old Kandivali kid says Sankranti is his favourite festival and expresses his love for kites. “I always hold the phirki for my father while he is flying the kites. He just hands me it to me for some time after it has gone high up. I love flying kites and want to fly some on my own this year,” said Dhruv Doshi, a student of standard V.


The joy of the festival among children and adults was such that the blue Mumbai sky changed colour with fighter kites as residential terraces were thronged by people during the festive week. Children used to go to school with their fingers cut from ‘maanja’—abrasive string coated with powdered glass.

However, a large number of people oppose kite-flying since many birds get injured and even some people are killed on the road after the string gets entangled to their necks. “It is just because of NGOs that the custom is now breathing its last. NGOs concerned with animals and birds just want to be in the limelight so they are ruining our tradition,” said Alkesh Chitroda, a 14-year-old from Malad.

“Without meaning any disregard to other religions, why do they oppose only our festivals? There are also kids who get self-flagellated. That is tradition whereas ours is harmful for environment and against human rights,” said Karan Patel, a student, adding that kite-flying is his favourite festival.

“I can fly kites like my hobby. Detractors will always oppose because they are jealous to see people enjoy,” he added.

Notice boards have been put up at various residential complexes ahead of the festival asking residents to avoid flying kites.

“Children unknowingly had something more than just fun and sport. They were connected with tradition and ritual. But now there are many factors working against the festival and its celebrations,” said Pooja Raithatha, a teacher and an expert on Gujarati philosophy.

Sankranti connection with Bollywood movies and songs has also been a long-standing tradition and a hit. From films with titles like ‘Kati Patang’ in the 1970s to ‘Kai Po Che’ in 2013 to a song in last year’s Shah Rukh Khan movie, ‘Raees’, the bond between movies and the festival is eternal.

Alkesh Chitroda, a 14-year-old from Malad, feels that it is because of NGOs that the kite-flying custom is now on its last legs. NGOs concerned with animals and birds just want to be in the limelight so they are ruining our tradition, he said

Pooja Raithatha, a teacher, said that children unknowingly had something more than just fun and sport. They were connected with tradition and ritual. But now there are many factors working against the festival and its celebrations