On 15 August, when the country was busy celebrating the 60th year of its Independence, many parents spent the public holiday flying kites with their children. It brought back memories of the good old days.
Flying kites has always been an Indian tradition and a mode of recreation. The Nawabs of Lucknow flew kites from palace rooftops. The kites had a small piece of silver or gold hitched on which worked as an incentive to cut it down. King Sawai Ram Singh of Jaipur was so fond of kites that he set up a factory for kite manufacturing.
Even today many families wait for the two major kite-flying seasons when demand for various kinds of kites and fighter kites touches a peak. The first season of the year falls in January, around the time when Makar Sankranti is celebrated. The kite-flying tradition also reaches a climax on Independence Day.
Kite-makers generate the lionís share of their annual income during these two seasons. Ahmedabad, known for its kites of myriad shapes, sizes and hues, generates Rs 12 crores annually. Major kite festivals in Ahmedabad and Jaipur have brought international attention, generated local revenues and boosted tourism. With little government encouragement and a few incentives, kite-making could well become an important source of livelihood for many.