The thrills of kite flying were immense (this was in the 1960’s )
Evenings were a time to fly kites after returning from school. We bought our kites and thread with manja from a shopkeeper called kite man .
He had several sizes of kites
6paise a medium kite
2paise a tiny kite
12paise a bigger kite called a daboo.
The manja, is thread coated with a glass powder . This would be at the front part of a flying kite , which is used to deal with another kite flyer in a kite fight. This manja and thread would be wrapped on a device called a firki..
Strong thread would be at the rear part of the flying kite .
I liked the 6paise kite as it had wax lines on it . The daboos were also waxed .
We had names for the various wind directions .
Evening breeze was generally from west to east .
Morning breeze was from east to west
Afternoon breeze was from north to south
Night breeze was from south to north .
We flew our kites in the wind direction.
In those days , many youth flew kites and the sky would be full of kites .
Some kite flyers were skilled in kite fights . I would take great care to ensure any flyer would not ‘pull’ me from behind.I.e. cut my string and lose my kite as it sailed away.
In the same way I would be ready for a kite fight and enjoy it with those in front or on the side .
There would be another set of youth who would only be interested in catching the kites that lost their fight and went sailing to land and get caught by them .
As a young guy , I would get thrilled when my eldest brother joined us to fly kites .
There were interesting incidents
when one of my daring brothers climbed the roof of our house to catch a kite . I too ventured to climb the neighbour’s roof and was reprimanded ‘Who is there on the roof’ by an old lady.
Another incident was quite serious . My brother caught a kite that floated near our home . He began pulling it but a sudden pull from the other end , caused the ‘manja’ to cut through his arm to the bone . Blood flowed as he got back to our home and was detected by my aunt . My father (a doctor ) was immediately contacted . The first thing he did , was to give my brother a spanking and then took him to the hospital where he was stitched .
On the 14th January , a kite flying festival is held called Makar Sakranti. Young and old participate in flying kites on this day .
At the end of October on a certain feast day there was a legend that kite flyers would release their kites in the sky which signalled the end of the season .
We were sad when this happened . We missed our evenings of kite flying .
The season spanned between end September to end October .
Sadly we now don’t see kites being flown . Youth have other pursuits .