SOME BITTER REALITIES ABOUT BASANT FESTIVAL IN LAHORE

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Government of the Punjab constituted a committee for revival of Basant and announced to hold the Basant Festival in the second week of February, 2019. People have given different views on the announcement of the Government. Generally people are agreeing but there is big but about the chemical twine used for kite flying which has resulted in loss of many lives till 2005 and even after. People supporting to held the Basant are doing so on the basis of economic and cultural activities which shall increase the business of all concerned with it. Kitemakers, Twine fabricators, Food Restaurants Owner, Hotel Industry and other allied businesses are activated by Basant in Lahore. On the other hand, those who have suffered hold very strong stance which has more weight-age.

Here we discuss on detail about the effects of chemical twine and other hazards which have maligned the simple hobby of kite flying slowly as poison; resulted in ban on it in the year 2005.

Since the creation of Pakistan and even before it, Basant was held in Lahore & Kasur, though historical facts narrate it to be Hindu Festival but people have been celebrating it. It became leisure time hobby in the cities of Lahore & Kasur. People whenever had time and the weather conditions suited, they ran the kites and enjoyed it.

The twine used to be very thin (maximum three layers of thread) which was easily breakable. Further, the coating on the thread known as “Manjha” was mixture of soft glass powder, binding material such as egg, glue & colors. The quantity of glass powder used to be very small. As the twine was not thick, it used to break easily and no harm was done to the people plying on roads. Normally used twines were:-

  1. 02 Number.
  2. 05 Number.
  3. 07 Number.
  4. 08 Number.
  5. 12 Number.

The twine was wrapped in round shape known as “Pinna”. The size of kites were small such as kite known as “Patang” was 4&1/2 hand wide and kite known as “Gudda” was 6 hands from one corner to corner.

As the Basant became a festival and even supported by Government, new experiments were started. Size of kites were increased which demanded thickness of twine. In the 1990s, thick twine of 7 layers & 11 layers of thread were introduced. The “manjha” was enhanced by use of Elfy Powder, hard glass powder, metal particle powders collected from different machines and strong colors. This twine resulted in loss of many lives as it has the strength to inflict deep cuts on human skins.

Night time kite flying was started in 1978 in inner Lahore which became an epidemic and essential part of kite flying. Prior to ban, it was very highly liked activity.

Catching a cut kite in the air used to be an art. Initially, a kite with special twine known as “tandhi” with matchsticks at 2-3 meters length alongwith kite was used to catch the kite in the air. But people started to use thin wires of brakes & clutch of bikes instead of match sticks. Whenever, the thin wire came into contact with electric wires, there was always boom and electricity cut down. This resulted in loss to WAPDA as well as human lives. Some people started to use nylon twine instead of tandhi; a source of throat cut. Very thick nylon twine were used and even now.

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