The fun of flying kites

History has it that Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hein brought the tradition of kite flying with them when they came to India in the 4th and 7th century respectively. Kite flying as a sport and pastime became popular with the patronage of Nawab Asaf-ud-daulah and his uncle Ustad Aga Abu Turrab Khan.

While later nawabs were occasionally interested in kite flying, Amjad Ali Shah showed special interest and is believed to have changed the basic design the kite.

Patang or guddi, as the kite is known, are made of tissue paper and bamboo. Almost all Indian kites are similar in their diamond shape and are made of tissue paper with a center spine and a single bow intersecting the spine.

Today kite flying is not just a pastime but is celebrated as a festival. Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur had commissioned a kite making factory in the 16th century to ensure continuity of the kite festival. While kites have a history of over 1000 years, are mentioned in songs, and found numerous classic miniature paintings of typical scenes which depict people flying kites, when the tradition of flying kites started is still not clear. Yet today Uttarayan, the kite festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm on many a rooftop of Gujarat. The tradition is passed on from father to son, from brother to brother. Children pick up the tricks of the trade as they assist their elders and friends by holding the charkhi (the roll on which glass coated thread or manjha is wound).

Ahmedabad's Kite Museum was founded by Bhanubhai Shah for displaying the collection of rare kites, which he built over 50 years. In this museum, one gets a glimpse of huge kites which are around 22 by 16 feet. Another kite, which is a major highlight of the museum, is made using 400 pieces of paper. Kites depicting various scenes of dances, festivals, god and goddesses are found here. Kites made of different material like polythene, nylon, cotton and paper can also be seen in the museum. Hexagonal Japanese kites called Rokoku are also on display in the museum.

Sanskar Kendra, Paldi, Ahmedabad,
Phone: 079-26578369


Contributed by: Prarthana, CEE Ahmedabad

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