Kite makers fret over Basant decision

Published: February 6, 2011

Workers hope for small boost in industry decimated by kite-flying. ban PHOTO : FILE

LAHORE: Thousands of skilled craftsmen who make kites and string are waiting anxiously for a decision from the Punjab government on whether or not it will lift the ban on kite-flying on Basant.

The Punjab government is reported to be considering allowing kite-flying on February 26 and 27, the proposed dates of Basant this year.

The sport has been banned in general since 2005, and has not been allowed on Basant since 2007.

Manufacturers have started contacting firms for supplies such as paper, string and other materials used to make kites and glass-coated string.

“It would be great news for the industry because we have been suffering for several years under the ban,” said Lala Billu, a manufacturer and dealer of kites and string. “But unless they give us proper notice and time to prepare, Basant will not be as colourful as it used to be.”

Billu conceded that many people opposed kite-flying on moral grounds, since glass-coated string caused several deaths. “But there are still hundreds of thousands of kite lovers who believe that the ban should be lifted, provided the government forcefully cracks down upon the manufacturers and dealers who use metal wire, or string coated with inflammable chemicals, or with excessive quantities of glass.”

He said that the district kite flying association had met with manufacturers of chemical-coated string and ‘tandi’ string and urged them to stop breaking the law, because they were putting the whole industry at risk.

“Many agreed to stop but they later broke the agreement. We are always ready to cooperate with the government against such manufacturers. They should be given heavy fines,” Billu said.

Muhammad Shafi, another string maker, said that his family had been in the business for decades and did not know any other work, so they suffered greatly over the last few years. “My mother died because I didn’t have the money for her treatment,” he said.

A Lahore-based kite maker said that since the sport had been banned in Lahore, he had started selling more in other districts. “Many kite lovers still enjoy flying kites in other districts regularly. Their passion has kept me and my family alive at least,” he said. “We make a lot less than we used to but when I look at what has happened to others in this industry, I thank Almighty Allah.”

Azhar Ali, another kite maker, said that before the ban, he and his family would be extremely busy at this time of year trying to meet orders for kites. Lifting the ban for two days was not enough. “How much can I make [in two days]? What am I supposed to do for the rest of the year?”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2011.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Steven
    Feb 6, 2011 - 6:08PM

    People need to grow up. Rather than ban Jashan i Bahran or Basant, we need to work to make it safer. It provides much needed tourist revenue to Pakistan and it is known all over the world as one of the most interesting spectacles of Punjab. Human beings have always celebrated the arrival of Spring since prehistoric times. It has nothing to do with religion as claimed by some confused fundamentalists but basic human instincts to celebrate the arrival of Spring after a long Winter. Basant predates any organized religion of man and is called many different names all over the world. I hope the government officials there grow up and work to curtail dangerous practices of unsafe kite strings and not ban the event which is so loved by people all over the world.Recommend

  • salma gul
    Feb 7, 2011 - 2:03PM

    Was basant banned for religious reasons or as it states in the article that the kite flying was banned because the wires were not safe and causing deaths. I did not see any reference to religion.Recommend

  • Asif
    Feb 7, 2011 - 4:17PM

    If there are some negligencies make sure to push them back and try to overcome on them. At this time the people of Punjab are suffering from galling situation and the demand of time that some kind of refreshment provide to the people for recreation.
    After banning on kite flying have the death on roads stopped or not?????????????????????????????????????????????Recommend

  • Hammad
    Feb 8, 2011 - 11:46AM

    These WERE one of the handful cultural events that if projected properly could have resulted in creating the image of our Country as a land of colors, peace & biggest harmony—
    what we are doing, an event that was related to every one(be that poor or rich), an event where there were no society bifurcations (allow me to write even in Mosques today, you find influential people sitting in the front row —)

    don’t let the culture of this land die, what we are left with and proudly displayed on INTERNATIONAL media is bomb blasts, assisinations, killings etc — Is this the image of PAKISTAN we want everyone to see

    Where is OUR Pakistan, where we had Basant which was projected on every major publication creating the image of Pakistan where every one wanted to visit ——Recommend

  • sanjithmenon
    Feb 8, 2011 - 9:14PM

    Basant is considered Hindu and Indian. Its not Arabic enough, rest is all academic non sense. Recommend

  • salman
    Feb 8, 2011 - 11:28PM

    can anyone tell me the exact date of basant in faisalabad please at my email address at salman_a66@yahoo.comRecommend

  • adnan
    Feb 10, 2011 - 7:02PM

    can anyone tell me the exact date of basant in faisalabad pleaseRecommend

  • Alap Arslan
    Feb 11, 2011 - 5:54PM

    It’s sick to ban Basant Festival.. Tell me just who is safe n who exactly knows that the person is alive for next 1 min… life n death is in the hands of God Almighty…I agree many Die with respect to the Threads but who is responsible for the deaths of Bomb blasts n Target killings in our country….? when our ministers pass through the roads all the traffic is Blocked for long just for their security without caring for any patient in any car or in some Ambulance….Do u people remember the birth of a kid in an auto coz of some minister passing through n traffic was blocked….? It is not the wise thing to ban basant it is better to make it safe… as u have seen many of our cultural festivals are about to end…. why our government is making it a political issue and trying to quit it off….? It’s my humble request to lift the ban and let our nation get out of stress n frustration n let them enjoy this great, recreational, cultural, festival…..Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2011 - 10:39PM

    yes plzz we all request goverment of punjab to plzzz give proper notice about celebrating basant on news channel plzzz give us this colourful festival its aur request to uuuuuuuuuuuuuRecommend

  • faisal
    Feb 13, 2011 - 2:19PM

    in faisalabad basant is on 17 night and 18 morning InshAllahRecommend

  • Hammad
    Feb 13, 2011 - 10:03PM

    Atlast Punjab government didn’t allow the kite flying on the eve of basant. Again government played the political stunt. However it’s areally a bad decision by Punjab government.Recommend

  • ahmed mujtaba
    Feb 15, 2011 - 4:21PM

    inshallah basant in lahore will take place on 26 and 27Recommend

  • Asif
    Feb 22, 2011 - 7:43PM

    is any chance of basant at lahore or not?Recommend

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