Basant II

Posted by sepoy on February 01, 2005 · 8 mins read

One confession. All I know about Basant and kites and strings, I learned from Aamir on the back of his ancient honda. We would be trolling the byways of Lahore, ditching classes and committments, and Aamir would grind the bike to a halt, point to some mid-distance in the sky and explain to me the paitch in progress. As far as I could, and can, tell there would be two barely visible pieces of paper in the sky but he would know the backstory, strategy and result of the competition in progress. I usually nodded and acted bored. But he wrote stuff down for me so that I can give it to you, my gentle readers.

Type of Kites: The internets are not that helpful when it comes to images of the various types of kites. Help readers.

  • Guda / Gudi:They are squares with tails or without. Like this. Or that. Stable but not as fast and not much control.
  • Patang / Kunkwa: This is the pro version. Looks like this. Stable, strong and fast but lacks good control.
  • Coop: Looks like the patang but with a bigger bottom giving it more control.
  • Cheel Kaat: LIke a elongated guda but bigger. Fast and strong.
  • Jahaaz: Looks weird (distance between the top and bottom half of the patang)
  • Sharla: For the kids.
  • Kabuli Guda: Afghani variety

Strings: The kite string is where it at though. All of the kites have a weight and wind resistance. The string needs to be strong enough to carry the kite.

There are two ways to categorize the Dore -strings: By the thickness of the string and the grade/amount of glass in the Manjha (coated mixture). Any string can be used to fly any kite but one has to make sure that the string can bear the weight of the kite. So, people get 6 or 7 different types of strings prepared - of varying thickness - and use them with different types of kites.
Below the fold are some pictures of a string making session that I took at last year's basant. Enjoy.

kites over lahore Art of Kite String Making - The paste of dye, glue, glass shards and Agent X
kites over lahore
Art of Kite String Making - The paste of dye, glue, glass shards and Agent X
Look at the bandaged fingers on the left hand The string is stretched between two poles
Look at the bandaged fingers on the left hand
The string is stretched between two poles
These poles By this guy
These poles
By this guy
and this guy going the opposite way He puts simple color dye on the strings
and this guy going the opposite way
He puts simple color dye on the strings
He is the one who coats the string with the glue mixture. The price of the kite string is determined by the quality of the mixture and how many layers of coating is done on it there is the glue mixture
He is the one who coats the string with the glue mixture. The price of the kite string is determined by the quality of the mixture and how many layers of coating is done on it
there is the glue mixture
look at his hands Heads to heavens - a common site in the old city skyline
look at his hands
Heads to heavens - a common site on the city skyline


Kamran | February 01, 2005

Reminds of my childhood in Lahore

s¯nee | February 01, 2005

Excellent post. I always loved the 'basant-parties' and sure do miss flying BIG PATANGZ and GUDA'Z with my friends in Santh Nagar!! I miss Lahore!

BridalBeer | February 02, 2005

What a wonderful revelation. A lot of us here assume that these kites swim over unpainted north Indian terraces, and not beyond. ( "Yahaan Bhi Vahi Shaam Hai Vahi Saveraa..." Veer-Zaara. 2004)

farhad | February 02, 2005

hmmm... u forgot to mention the famous "machar" kite! ma fav! ;) dunno if machar wali kite has an english name

Hasan | February 04, 2005

If Basant isnt a hindu festival ... where it originates from ? ... and a very strong viewpoint of the clergy to denounce basant is ... waste of time & money ! each year millions of money wasted on paper kites ... (other then the lavish arrangements all over Lahore) ... many people ... specially small boys from poor neighbourhood lost their lives ... in number of accidents ... but no one pay attention as it wasnt any of their own relative. ... it is just like ... forgeting Gujrat Earthquake ... but an event like Tsunami teh whole world knows !

Anand | February 09, 2005

sorry for these absurdly long 'comments', but all this discussion about kites reminded me of something i wrote a long time ago... which sort of fits! It was a warm September afternoon with the humidity of a monsoon thatís over but doesnít know that yet. Classes had ended for the day and Angel and Sky walked hand in hand out across the shaggy green lawns, and through the gate, waving at me as they went. I looked down at the large wooden spindle in my hand, its edges rough and chipped where it had rolled over stones and grit. Its handles worn polished dark grimy smooth by spinning with wind-tugs while held snug in the webbings between the thumbs and forefingers of many an enthusiastic apprentice. Its bobbin wrapped around with the finest dirty white dora, a kilometre of it, no ground glass coating. The kite itself was the largest I had found in all the alleys of MalkaGanj, its span almost as wide as the street in which the shop was, and its pink, which had caught a stray ray of the setting sun when I got there, as loud as a neon wedding. There were gold birds, which, impossibly, seemed embossed on the thin, taut paper. The man who made it had the cloudy beginnings of a cataract in one eye, and the shop wasnít high enough for him to stand upright in. It was the most beautiful kite I ever flew. Out on the beaten yellow grass of the playing field, a half dozen sluggish cricket matches slowly dwindled away as the kite rose. The air was still at ground-level, but as always when flying a kite, the wind seemed to be in my hair. The pull and pull and tug, weaving an invisible tapestry across the sky, and when it got high enough, the constant fight to break free. Then distance became academic, as all that held us together was a parabolic curve of string, taut as a tuned guitarís. I squinted up into the sun, and half a mile above a small dark diamond whirled, a dervish in a tight thermal. Much later when she told me about that day, it was the kite that she started with. When Sky and her, after drinking soda from marble stoppered banta bottles, and sharing a nervous cigarette outside the college gates, had finally got onto a rickshaw and started towards VijayNagar, the kite had just, in a flapping, morose manner, risen above the college buildings. And when they kissed by the window of the second storey flat, generously donated by a friend, she could see the kite, a hundred feet in the air, the only one visible for miles. - It was our first time with each other, she said, as she sat hugging her knees on the rug on the far side of the room, on the day after Skyís funeral. As my orgasm came closer it was no longer Skyís face with its peculiar concentration hanging over mine that I saw, but two kites. Two kites, violently twisting and jerking across the sky, their glass-edged strings snaking around each other, bound together and pulling apart, each trying to cut the other loose. And when it flowed, one kite was cut adrift, and floated, and pirouetted and tumbled and careened, blown by the wind, constantly seeming larger, but never losing altitude. Towards sunset I slowly, reluctantly brought the kite down from a sky that had turned its exact shades of pink and gold. On the way to my room, I stopped for a habitual peek at the TV in the common room. And for the next half-hour, kept standing there. The crowd around the TV kept growing. One of my friends came in, sweaty from an evening run, and started yelling ëLong live the Revolutioní and pumping his arms in the air. All heads turned to look at him. Then there was no thought in my head except that I had to tell Angel. I ran all the way to VijayNagar, the streets a swift grey blur of unremembered familiarity, people and cows just obstacles to be narrowly brushed past. Angel opened the door, wearing Skyís favourite faded T-shirt; through the door I could see him lying on the crumpled sheets on the camp bed, smoking a cigarette, angry. - Two airliners have flown into the World Trade Centre buildings in New York. Thought youíd like to know. Angel hugged me. Sky got up from bed and took a step towards us and stopped. There were tears flowing from my eyes and down onto his T-shirt. At the moment when she had been closest to him, I had barged in. And he had to stop and look, from a distance. For it wasnít me barging in, come to think of it, it was the story. A story that ran through our lives and bound Angel and me together, a story to which he had been spectator before, and would be again. A story that had just outgrown the insignificant traumas of our unknown lives to become the mythology of the media. That was why my tears flowed. Not for America, not for the Middle East, not for human life, not for New York. But for that now there would be no escape from the images of death falling from the sky on the unsuspecting. For the secret language of my nightmares had become the lingua franca of the world.

Gravs | August 03, 2005

Dear Writer , Thru my letter i would like to thank Aamir u r friend for educating u all about the kites in Indian Subcontinent. When u are sitting on the net u ill get loads of sites both Personal and Commercial showcasing Kites from all our the world but none from Pakistan or India ( Home of Fighter Kites) . Thru this letter of mine i would like to congratulate you on your endeavour . In case you are interested in some more pictures ,i can share with you so that this page of yours becomes more appealing and informative to all those who visit it. My Best wishes. A Kite Flier, Gravs

M Faisal | January 19, 2006

hi nice to know, Well I am GOing on BAsant March 2006 this year. it will be nice i guess

saadia | March 01, 2007

uhm, can someone please tell me how to make a gudi?. Want to celebrate basant in hawaii

LATIF | May 18, 2007

can some1 please help me, I am tying to make a manjha string, and I need help with the exact ingriedients in the mixture and step by step instructions on how to do it, If you have any answers please email me at thank you

Eber Vievk Kumar | September 13, 2008

I want some Best/Guaranteed Manjha manufacturers/Suppliers of Bareilly, Lalkuan,Jodhpu,Jaipur, Kindly do theneedful

Eber Vievk Kumar | September 13, 2008

Your site is too good. I want Manjha Best Quality/Guaranteed Manjha manufacturers Addresses,PhoneNo,email addresses and pincode of Bareilly, Rajkot, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Kolkotta. Kindly conider & do the need. I am planning to open a kite store in my locality.

Basant I | February 08, 2011

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