Mourning Basant

Published: January 8, 2011

DESIGN: AMNA IQBAL

LAHORE: Basant– the advent of spring, colour, and festivities, is one of the most celebrated and anticipated events in Pakistan…but this year Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore seems to have lost hope for the event

Basant normally takes place in the first week of February, and preparations are in full swing by now … but that just isn’t the case this year. The city that used to bustle in anticipation of spring is now struggling to make even the most basic preparations.  The Kite Flying Association has is pessimistic about Basant this year saying that they have lost their staunchest supporter, governor Salmaan Taseer and hence, do not see much hope in the event itself anymore.

Taseer had been a devoted supporter of Basant despite the Punjab Government’s ban on it for the last two years and used to make special arrangements to celebrate the occasion at the Governor House.

District Kite Flying Association (DKFA) General Secretary Shaikh Saleem told The Express Tribune that they were planning to forward an application seeking permission for Basant to take place but this was delayed due to the governor’s assassination. “He has been a great supporter and was in a position to negotiate with high-ups to allow celebrating Basant for two days at least. We will move the application with the Punjab Government in a few days but we aren’t very hopeful about it,” he added.

Saleem said that the Punjab Assembly had passed a bill in the past to allow kite flying for Basant,  but then banned it by issuing a special notification by the DCO last year. Earlier on, permission for kite flying was given by the Home Department but since last year the Home Department has delegated these powers to the DCO.

Sheikh said, “Kite flying was a harmless sport but a few people had conspired against it by using metal strings. If people are killed in accidents should the government ban vehicles altogether? This is not the solution. The use of metal strings and chemical strings should be banned and above all aerial firing should not be allowed at any cost. The real kite flyers never get involved in these kinds of activities and they are the ones who have been deprived of their favorite game”.

While the government opposes Basant on the pretext of financial and human losses, many others say Basant symbolises the real culture of the Walled City. Dr Ejaz Anwar, the renowned painter, says, “Basant is sport, colour, kites and jubilation. Kites decorate the sky like flowers do gardens. Basant used to be very peaceful and people were visible on rooftops. It is very much associated with the Walled City”. Anwar, whose many paintings have captured Lahore’s Basant on canvas, does however believe that kite flying at night should not be allowed. “A lot of bad things associated with Basant have their roots in night Basant in fact. Metal string and aerial firing should be strictly controlled and then Basant can be celebrated very peacefully,” he added.

Film writer and producer Rukhsana Noor said that Basant should not be associated with religion and must be taken as a cultural event. She said, “Our people have very few opportunities to cheer up and Basant is one such occasion. We should not deprive people from having some fun. Basant used to create a lot of revenue, as foreigners from across the world came to Lahore for this occasion.”

Arif Rehman Chughtai, son of legendary MA Rehman Chughtai, agrees that that religion has nothing to do with the event itself. “Those who associate it with religion are narrating an incorrect version of history. Basant was the only occasion where foreigners realised that Muslims could also laugh and have a good time,” he added. He said that India couldn’t promote Basant despite repeated efforts and on the other hand, we seem intent on ruining our own festival. “My father used to make and fly kites. Was he a bum or a criminal? The rich enjoyed it their way, associated some bad things with it and then deprived poor kite flyers of their sport,” he maintained.

Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) spokesman told The Express Tribune, “So far there is no update on Basant or Jashn-e-Baharaan. I don’t think we are going to celebrate Basant this year.”

Business loss

While many repent the loss of lives and find the event a frivolous waste of expenditure, many business ventures that primarily worked for the event all year round-now find themselves lost

Many people associated to the kite and string manufacturing believe that ban on Basant has deprived them of their jobs. Naeem Pol, a former whole sale kite and string dealer, now has a food stall. He says, “The business was destroyed with ban on kite flying. The worst thing was that Basant was also banned otherwise, so we could still do well if the sale of kites were allowed just for two, three days before Basant.”

Iftikhar Ahmad, another kite manufacturer, said, “You could find women making kites in almost every third house in the Walled City. It was a very good industry that we deliberately destroyed. I run a store now but it hardly meets my expenses while I had a very good income when I was in kite manufacturing business”.

Shaikh Saleem said that every shopkeeper in the Walled City sold kites some years ago at the advent of Basant. “People earned their livelihoods and there were hundreds of thousand of people in this business who still haven’t settled at their new jobs,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2011.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (13)

  • Nadia
    Jan 12, 2011 - 6:38PM

    Pakistan is a dull depressing place – there is no room for fun there anymore, everywhere you go you see militant islamists in their turbans and unkempt beards and their shalwars hiked upto their knees!! YUK.
    Basant is supposed to herald the new season of spring and, harvest but the only thing harvested in pakistan is hatred, murder and corruption! Recommend

  • ahmed
    Jan 14, 2011 - 11:57AM

    the only cultural event of pakistan was basant which has also been destroyed. we earned lotsa publicity around the globe but now its all over. no electricity, no gas, no water, no basant, welcome to the revolutionary pakistan huhRecommend

  • hafiz dawood
    Jan 14, 2011 - 2:38PM

    first of all i whoul like to thank express that express only news paper who highlight this issue, now come to point, can i ask one question to all high concerned also lahore high court,supreem court, my question is if in society two groups so law gives equal right to both but we not see this in our society exemple is kite flying ban who effected from kite flying on there request govt ban kite flying and ignore all people who like kite flying,makig kites,and lots more, even govt has no hasitation to ban BASANT..what is this?we are waiting since last 8 years that govt. resolve this banning basant issue but no result?govt. have only target killing, price increasing tention for its people? wher is other responsibilities regarding give relaxation to common public. please express highlight this issue on news paper as well as on channel we not want lose our kite flying our culture basant we emotionally attach kite flying and basant, please do some thing for us.Recommend

  • Anonymous ( Kite Lover)
    Jan 14, 2011 - 6:43PM

    It was really pleasing to hear that there are still people in Media who want basant and can highlight this Basant Issue.
    Now, Lets get to the point, Basant was a Cultural event of Lahore which brought a huge revenue to Pakistan. It was celebrated by Lahoris and Many many foreigners. But unfortunately, our Government Is against Pakistan, against its cultures. Banned Basant and closed Food Street, the two beautiful and attractive things of Lahore.
    Our Country is in a terrible state and we have a very few opportunities to enjoy ourselves. Why dont the officials of government consider this issue and take is seriously? Why dont they make Rules and regulations to make this event Bright and lively again.
    People say Basant has many evils eg. people get drunk and aerial firing. I agree that aerial Firing is ABSOLUTELY wrong and should be Banned, but Its the duty of parents to control and Keep an eye on their children to make sure they dont consume drinks etc. moreover this drinking takes place in Houses of elite class and sorry to say we cannot Stop them.

    We have to save This industry for sake of poor and unemployed people of Pakistan. This is the only cheap way to earn livelihood. We are emotionally attached to it and will never let this event disappear for Pakistan…..

    May Allah Protect Pakistan!Recommend

  • anonymous
    Jan 14, 2011 - 10:21PM

    till shade is gone
    till water is gone
    into the sun with teeth bared
    screaming bokata to my last breath
    celebrating the cutting of my opponents kite
    on basant dayRecommend

  • anonymous
    Jan 14, 2011 - 10:23PM

    till shade is gone
    till water is gone
    into the sun with teeth bared
    screaming bokata to my last breath
    celebrating the cutting of my opponents kite
    on basant day
    dedicated to salman taseer
    who willingly paid the price for the life he ledRecommend

  • mian usman
    Jan 16, 2011 - 12:46AM

    kiTe FlYiNG is a passion with LaHoRieS on *BaSant the spring KiTE FeStIvAl…kite flying is not only a big sport as well as also a industry…so many poor families relates and works in this business.here i tell someting that kite flying,bAsaNt is not an indian culture..the first kite was made in china.kite flying is an international game..last 7 years it is ban..here i tell to public that kite dorr is not fully responible for accidents.the major thing is poor poilices of govt involed.the huge numbers of motor bikes in big roads and no safety measures.the parents r responible for their children.why they sit children in petrol tanky of bike.why boys (their sons) drive bikes at fast speed.why gov cuts tress between the roads.why gov cuts cables & wires between the street lights poles of big roads.these wires provides safety to bikers.why gov not take action no that persons who make thick dorrs.why govt arrest all peoples kite makers,thin dorr makers,kite sellers,kite flyers,old people,ladies,young kite lovers..my mission is that we safe is our historical event,culture,game most important is it is business,earing source of income..kite flying can be safe and sound.only and only safety measures and plains are made.safety rods or safety antinas install in bikes.ban thick dorrs.grow more tress in between and around the roads.if we saw a accidents then we dont ban a transport,trains,cars,bikes,buses,planes,moblies,electricity,tv,etc…lahore basant is one of the most beautiful famous festival in the world.like Eid BasaNT is also a festival of poor people.
    May Allah Protect Pakistan!*Recommend

  • Nauman
    Jan 18, 2011 - 3:06PM

    Dear All,

    Basant is a good Cultural event,mostly being cheeried by everyone in Pakistan and especially we use to invite visitors from all over the world to see how people are celebrating this event and by this all we use to have foreign investment in our country but due to the certain hic-ups Punjab Govt is not allowing this Festival to take place and may be they are also right at their place but they should make a rule and regulations along with kite flying association of Pakistan what would be done and how.

    Do not destroy this event please make some adjustments which would be benefited by both Punjab Govt and General Public b’coz it is also a sources of income to others as well.

    Regards,

    NaumanRecommend

  • (Ahmad Sheikh) Devoted Kite Lover
    Jan 20, 2011 - 4:56AM

    Message for Honourable Chief Minister:
    I would like the Respectable Chief Minister of Punjab to draw his attention on these suggested points in the “Safe Kite Flying All Year Around PROGRAM”

    PROPOSSED: “SAFE KITE FLYING ALL YEAR AROUND PROGRAM”
    • Please Don’t let this beautiful festival vanish. Bring strict law’s and enforce them.
    • Kite flying is a Sports, it has no religion or sect. So, please ignore how some people portray it.
    • Hatred towards this festival will never end it, but it will make matters more worse. My recommendation is to make this sports a envoirment friendly and safer for all human beings.
    • Kite Fliying has no dangers only if done with the right twine(dor).
    • A true kite flyer would never fly kites with metallic or chemical twine(dor) and will help the police or the kite flying association to catch the culprits who make or use dangerous twine.
    • Government with the help of (ALL PAKISTAN KITE FLYING ASSOCIATION or LAHORE KITE FLYING ASSOCIATION) should standardize the type of twine allowed.
    • No matter how BIG the Kite is made, if the twine(dor) is of the resonable thickness it will never slit anyone’s throat. So in this regard The Pakistani Government should approach the twine(dor) maker’s and oppose a strict law that they should only make twine(dor) of the thickness to which is good to fly kites but should not slit anyone’s throat.
    • In parallel, in order to save this colourful BASANT FESTIVAL, Government should immpose strict law on the motorcyclist’s that they should use the wire to cover the top of the bike and wear helmet.
    • No Ariel firing, if a true kite lover see’s it. They should inform the police or the concerned authority. (for Ariel Firing, strict law should be imposed. E.g: 2years in jail).
    • No metallic wire, No Chemical, No thick twine. If the buyer, seller caught, strict law should be imposed. E.g: 6months in jail & Rs:100,000/- fine.

    Please Note: We can fly kites all year long, if all of us take the right measures for it.

    Regards,
    Ahmad Sheikh
    (Kite Flying is my passion, i am crazy about kite flying, I will do what ever it takes to restore this festival).Recommend

  • (Ahmad Sheikh) Devoted Kite Lover
    Jan 20, 2011 - 5:12AM

    @Dear All,
    In my opnion, the only way to restore the BASANT FESTIVAL is that WE the “BASANT LOVERS” should come under one shed and spread the word. i dont see a proper forum where we all can share our thoughts and views. i dont understand why we are scattered. Half of the educated people, like us who browse on the internet, look for the possibilities of the somone talking about the basant somewhere on various different websites.. millions of the jobless, uneducated, poor kite makers dont even have a clue that we are struggling to restore this BEAUTIFUL FESTIVAL.
    I hope that all the KITE LOVERS will agree with me that the “All Pakistan Kite Flying Association (APKFA)” should launch an OFFICAL WEBSITE.
    It will give us the oppurtunity to interact with eachother. we can share our views and raise our issues. we will be updated on what the kite flying association is doing to restore the matter with the government. we may find educated lawyers to fight our case. ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY IS WELLCOME TO JOIN. NO MATTER POOR OR RICH. i dont know how to make a website. So anyone can volunteer.

    Action Required by the Concerned People, listed below:

    Government : Please take the necessary actions to restore the Kite Flying. Awam ki Awaz Ko Suniya. dont hate the sports, instead bring strict laws to make it people friendly. Allah App ko Hidayat Dee! Amin.
    Honourable Saleem Shaikh (General Sectary) All Pakistan Kite Flying Association (APKFA). Please come up with “SAFE Kite Flying All Year Round Program”. Present that to the court and to the CM of Punjab. Please plan to make a official website. can someone get me contact number of Saleem Shaikh?
    Twine(DOR) Makers: (come with the commitment that YOU will only make twine of the strenth of which only a kite can be cut, but wont have the strenght to cut any humans throat.
    Kite Makers (please do justice with your profession so that you can earn and make a better living)
    Kite flyers( like u and me): say no to ariel firing, no to metallic wire, no to thick twine, no to chemical.
    Writers, Poets and Aritist’s and all the professionals out there if u r true Kite Lovers , please raise your voice and tell the government what a true lahori is all about.
    All the concerned people please DO SOMETHING to save Kite Flying.

    Regards,
    Ahmad SheikhRecommend

  • saad ullah
    Jan 22, 2011 - 12:29AM

    i want to say that we should do this publicly not only on facebook or any other stuff. we should go out do some protest so that this issue may get some importanceRecommend

  • Hammad
    Feb 8, 2011 - 11:31AM

    @anonymous:

    Nice words for giving tribute to one person who stood against the society bifurcation and had his views about the few remaining cultural festivals of this land ——–

    These festivals if celebrated in the true spirts will help bringing back the smiles on our faces which have long faded —- Recommend

  • sunny
    Feb 11, 2011 - 2:04AM

    There is a very serious matter of kite flying is in hot news these days. This is one of the old traditional cultural games; from many decades we are enjoying this event.

    Every day many of the peoples died from the FOOD, DISEASES, BAD LAW AND ORDER, and TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS ETC. Do the government have any solution to protect them. Sir instead of stopping the kite flying industry does the solid steps to minimize the injuries from kite flying. Sir! Do the government ever think that why the more injury cases are now registering. What are reasons behind this? In which areas most of the cases are happening.

    o Last year government introduced the helmet for the motorbike riders. Because government was thinking that with the help of helmet all the injuries can be handled. How many drivers of motorbike riders who became victims were wearing helmet? None of them are wearing helmet. It means that government fails to implement this own law. This law only increases the underhand income of police nothing else. And all the victims are without the helmet, so they are already destroying the law.
    o This year government stops the use of chemical and thick thread for kite flying. Ever you think that what will happen to all the row material, which was imported to use in kite flying. If the government wants to stop the use of chemicals then why government did not buy all those material from the market and waste or export back to other countries.
    o Do the government ever thinks why there are fewer cases on the streets, which are surrounded by the trees.
    o Why all the cases happened on the bridges and areas where the streets are broad and no trees on the both side, government should install fast growing trees on the both side.
    o Why all the victims are on the bike instead of cycle.

    We would like to notify that this is not a solution to stop the kite flying with an over night announcement. If the government do not want to allow the peoples to celebrate the basant, then why government allow the peoples to make the arrangement for the roofs, food arrangements, kite and doore arrangements. Now when peoples invest billons of money in the event, government announces that there is a no kite flying.

    Many of the national/multinational companies have invite the 800,000 to 16,00000 business clients for the festival. What we say to those that our government first of all allows the kite flying and now stops with an overnight notice. What impression they get from us, and our government. Trillions of dollars business will effect from the foreign clients.

    Adverse affects from stopping the kite flying
    Sir at this time at least four hundred thousand peoples are directly involved from this industry. And more than nine hundred thousand peoples are directly or in directly involved in this industry. Sir at this time already more then millions of Pakistanis are without the job or any occupation does the government wants to make more than one million more without jobs and occupation. Most of the peoples without occupation will be future terrorist, do you want to make them terrorist. Kindly don’t stop it in four of millions of peoples. Only make the policies implement strictly.Recommend

More in Life & Style