Pakistan: Let The Kites Fly

Kite flying on the edge. Image by Flickr User nomi07, used under a Creative Commons License

Kite flying on the edge. Image by Flickr User nomi49, used under a Creative Commons License

In many parts of Pakistan, especially in Lahore, traditionally people used to celebrate the Basant (spring) festival by flying kites. But this tradition has been under the wire for a while. In 2005 a Pakistani lawyer contended in a Lahore court that Basant was not just a Hindu ritual but a lethal game. Other very significant objections included, use of deadly strings which resulted in the death of children and disruption in power transmission. Following the trial, the Lahore Court banned kite flying in Punjab province.

Every year when it is time for flowers to bloom and for spring to make its grand long-awaited entrance unconsciously, Basant is all everyone is thinking about. Many understand why the government deems it necessary to wage this war against the harmless kite, but everyone still wants it.

Recently the debate came alive after the Lahore High Court had set aside a writ petition which aimed to lift the ban on kite flying and the ruling observed that it was a dangerous activity. Raza Rumi at Lahore Nama still hopes that the ban will be lifted:

“Hope that this festival will come back to Lahore. We strongly protest against this policy decision. Pakistan cannot be made a safe haven for roaming terrorists and suicide bombers while the peaceful citizens are denied the opportunity to celebrate a festival that is so deeply a part of our culture.”

Hamza Ahmed Qureshi at Lahore Metblogs thinks otherwise:

“The hue and cry raised by a certain section of the society on the recent banning of Basant by the Lahore High Court compels me to bring forward my point of view.

These people mourn for the loss of a cultural event which attracted thousands of foreigners from all over the world. In the prevailing geopolitical situation, I hardly think that a bunch of colorful kites would be able to lure an already fear stricken foreigner to a death trap. Moreover this cultural loss might be a matter of concern for a handful of socialites and five-star hotels but not for the common man.”

However, Momekh points out:

“The ban on basant is silly. Loss of life and loss of the ever-so-present WAPDA supply are not reasons at all. And here’s why: the loss of life is not because the kite-flying itself is dangerous. Kite-flying has been around for some time.”

Momekh goes on to explain what made Basant a controversial matter. The blogger clarifies what issues the authorities should be addressing instead of canceling an event:

“The murderous streak now automatically tagged with Basant itself, has been introduced through the development of stronger string. A lot of people think that it is the razor-like solution that the string is soaked in that causes the string to be a knife-on-the-loose. Although the sharpness is part of the reason, the main reason is that the string itself is very strong. [..]

It is the combination of ultra-strong string with razor-sharp solution (a.k.a. manja) that makes the string a killer.”

If the government could set some rules and regulations against the use of such strong strings for this cultural and traditional event, this entertainment could for once not be made a matter of conflict. However the ban is very much there because of the new court ruling.

In this circumstances, the Pakistani kite flyers are even considering to take their kite flying to neighboring India. Despite the ban one can see hundreds of kites on Lahore's sky, which shows its popularity.

A private TV channel reported that 75% population of Punjab, the hub of Basant celebrations, wants kite flying. But the government and the judiciary do not plan to give in to the consensus of the masses. There are reports that the police forces are all set to make sure that the defiance of this ban does not go unnoticed or unpunished. No doubt this will break many peoples’ hearts.


  • Cocnerned

    It is ridiculous to ban kites because it is dangerous, but not ban gun ownership which is really taking a lot of lives. This is another useless Islamiyat project.

  • This is redicules depriving over a million people of their livlehood because govt has its own shortcomming of nabbing down the few culprits. Actually these poor people are just another common citizens unlike sugar millers and cement factories who can twist govt’s arm for the policies in their favor. Punjab govt grow up and do some maths, it does not take a rocket science to resolve this issue.

  • masihi banda

    Another example of hypocrisy of the Bedouin ideology that couldn’t stand the wonderful festival of Basant. The Basant may have its origin in the Hindu culture but through the ages it has become a generic festival for all to enjoy regardless of faith. I remember when I was a little boy in Lahore; all my family used to have such great fun flying kites of all shapes and colors on our rooftop. We never thought it to be a threat to our Christian faith. Our faith is much bigger than that. I must say I have many fond memories of those wonderful days.

    I believe this whole thing has to do with Islamic religion that shows its fear of other cultures and traditions. They had to stoop so low that they want to ban the festival of Basant altogether. Sadly, it will be another great loss of our Punjabi culture. Under such bans people wouldn’t be able to have simplest of fun. What a boring this country is turning out to be! Look at Pakistan now, it’s a big mess now. It has been overrun by the Alqueda philosophy that has changed the Punjabi culture into a Bedouin culture. It seems killing of innocent minorities is more pleasurable for them than kite flying.

    • Garam Masala

      Last year I was in Lahore coincidentally at the time of Besant. People of all kinds, including Muslims, were flying kites. How sad and ignorant those of you are who blame Islam. You have no clue and believe the garbage fed to you by the media. Why do you even read anything from a site like this? You might as well stick to Fox news which is much your style. It’s wrong to be a hater, no matter who you are or what background you are. By the way, I’m an American from a Christian family and I enjoyed Pakistan very much and can’t wait to go back. It is a beautiful country with a rich history and full of lovely people. Since you are from Lahore originally you should remember these things. Shame on you.

      • masihi banda

        Aslamoalikum! Adab Arz!

        Sorry your feelings are hurt but the truth must be told and the workings of Islam must be exposed. It has nothing to do with media or hate. I express my opinion on this website because it offers me a freedom of speech and grants me an opportunity to express the opposite view. I believe I have a right to my opinion. Do you honestly think I could do this in Pakistan? I don’t think so; I will be killed the same day. Don’t you agree?

        Let me make it perfectly clear I am not here to bash you personally or hate your religion. Much of what I write is a testimony of truth of my experiences, mistreatments, and persecutions by Muslims. I experienced all this first hand as a youngman and as an adult. So its not an imagination of someone else or Fox media. To tell you the truth I dislike Fox news media and what it represents. I love my x-country but I would never respect it for evil it dishes out to Christians on daily bases. And that is the hateful shame we should be talking about.

        The alleged ban on kite flying is just another example of Islamic bigotry. The truth is, if anything is against the Bedouin ideology Islam goes into the mode of: “Islam khatrey main heh” that’s when all holy-hell fanatics jump up and start killing people. Because of that nothing changes for the ‘good’ in the Islamic world. For that reason alone I am not in Pakistan anymore. Let me ask you, what have you done to clean up the tarnished image of Pakistan? If Islam professes to be a religion of peace then it must learn to practice peace also. Khuda Hafiz!

        • Wow, you really must not know stuff, do you? :)
          Pakistan has one of the most free media anywhere in the ‘world’. Yeah, you read that right, not in ‘the muslim world’, but the whole widey worldy thingy. Heh.
          I can clearly see that you are angry at Islam, for what reasons, I can’t even guess. I hope you find the answers and provide us with them too… but this is about Basant, this post, and you relating an object of your hatred to basant is just not, well, just not objective.
          Hope all’s well.
          And God bless us all :)

          • masihi banda

            Hey Momekh

            I am sorry to have raised your heartbeat. Please calm down, I assure you, you have nothing to worry about. It seems as though you are one of those typical guys who believe any argument against your religion is the end of the world. “Islam is in danger” yes that’s what you are saying here. As I said before my little arguments are merely the facts of what’s happening in Pakistan under the current Islamic laws. Let me say this again, the Basant Mayla and ban on kite flying is directly related to the bigotry of those laws. It is so sad how the Bedouin ideology has brainwashed once freethinking people. Yet people like you have no guts to speak out against the hypocrisy of your current government and the draconian laws it passes. That was all my argument in a nutshell. Do you understand Momekh?

            The Al-Queda philosophy has raped the country big time and ruined the faith of its people. The sectarian violence has peaked to shameful levels everywhere. There is no peace in Pakistan. Yet none of you guys stand up and say anything against it ever. You continue to blame others but never blame yourself. Are you with me so far? If you are annoyed please do not read any further.

            No, I don’t hate any religion including yours. I just don’t find it spiritually meaningful. If it works for you more power to you. FYI; I have enough knowledge to stand behind my statements and back ’em up any time. The truth is: Islam is always in danger because of its own weakness of substance not because of Basant or any other reason. If the Islamic theology is solid then you have nothing to worry about, right? So don’t blame me for your own narrow mindedness. I believe in my heart, it is always good to agree to disagree. Khuda Hafiz!!!!!

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