Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kite Flying is not a Crime

March 3, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Those 15 teenagers whom the Punjab police arrested for kite flying and were later released on the express order of the Inspector General Punjab Police did not commit any crime. If our officialdom and religious zealots have become so fastidious as to not allow a traditional sport for the sake of fun and entertainment then we belong to the pre-historic ages when humans were living in caves and were wild.

Since each year a few lives are lost either by falling from the rooftops or guillotined by the razor sharp string used in kite flying, the entire game that has been part of the cultural milieu of the sub-continent for centuries is declared as unlawful and banned.

The joy of flying the kites is doubled as the peasants and farmers are free after the harvesting and storing the corn and rice in their makeshift storage facilities. In East Punjab this festival is celebrated with dazzling festivities when the revelers drink to their fill, eat the choicest foods, dance, and sing especially the folklore mystical and love songs both vocal and with the instruments.Open air theatres are arranged that are attended by large crowds. This is the best season of the year for the traditional marriages to be solemnized with exceptional pageantry and glamour.

Kite flying is as old as the human civilization and is observed with fanfare, relish, gusto all over the world. In Pakistan the kite flyers fly the kites made from the bamboo strings and fine paper and usually are of normal sizes with multiplicity of colors.

However, in the Far Eastern countries including Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia and China, the giant sized kites are used that carry figures, graphics and designs of animals, flying insects, birds, and other beasts, both real and mythical.
In the courtiers where the kite flying is a ritual and a yearly tradition, the kite flyers, compete, excel and vie with each by making and flying the most novel and alluring kites.

The kites made and flown in countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Greece, Cyprus, Chile, India, and China are famous for their diversity in sizes, for being fanciful, with gaudy colors and paintings. In China and Japan as large as 100 foot long kites are made with dragons and are lifted in the air with great dexterity.

Kite flying in Pakistan is a popular ritual for the celebration of Jashn-e-Bahar (Spring Festival) or Basant. While kite fighting is the most cherished hobby all around Pakistan, yet Lahore is the hub of this recreation. During the spring festival the skies are colored with kites. As people cut-loose an opponent’s kites, the shouts and shrieks with various epithets ring through the air from the winning party.

The snapped kite that floats in the space freely are reclaimed by the zealous and rather bewitched crazy boys running madly along the flying kite till it falls and is snatched by the strongest looter.

Most of us must have read the story of the famous experiment attributed to an 18th century scientist, Benjamin Franklin who proved by the kite flying that lightning in the clouds carried the charge of electricity. He felt that shock in the tether he was holding in his hand.

There is no religious injunction that bars or bans this recreation coming once a year and that rejuvenates the people that go through a suffocating and conditioned life round the years. If the two Eid festivals are ceremonies observed every year with devotion and unfailingly, why not a cultural festivity that injects once in awhile fun, pleasure and happiness in the insipid and dull lives of the citizens should be declared as an offense.

As far the string that is lethal and if incidently woven round the beck can result in an instantaneous death, rules can be framed to bind the kite flyers that the string or the thread used in kite-flying should not be metal or glass-coated. At the same time people should be warned of not walking causally while the kite flying competitions are in progress. In this way while the people would be able to carry out this fun filled festivity, they would be safe from those rare fatalities as well.

If the society is averse to the healthy activities one of which is the games and physical gymnastics, then we shall have to wind up a host of other activities too that are more harmful than this fun generating game that comes once in a year coinciding with the harvesting of the winter crops in the Indian sub continent. The period of Basant or spring is the most exhilarating as the wind is strong but mild and cool.
The kite flying is not committing a murder, stealing or stabbing .Even otherwise fatal road accidents occur every day but it does not mean that traveling should be declared unlawful and banned. If kite flying is an offense and dangerous then we shall have to put a ban on other similar recreational activates such bull fighting, cock fighting, dog fighting, swimming, and climbing. Do the authorities in Pakistan want to turn Pakistan into land barren of all creative, delightful and entertaining pursuits?

It was most callous to send the young boys behind the bar for a kind of sport that they wait for the whole year and that warms and thrills their dull and listless lives. If the police were to arrest the kit flying fans, then they could do it with adults and not the adolescents who would be prone to incur a fear and fright for the rest of their lives and turn paranoid for something which they perceive simply as a mirthful and fun generating activity and nothing else.

1 comment:

  1. Religious insanity is unique. While atrocious crime may be explained as religious duty, flying kites may land you in jail.