Basant is here again.
I read that some schools and collages are celebrating this festival by declaring ‘Basant Princess’ and ‘Basant Queen’ among the students. Great! The ‘Bazarisum’ has not spared anyone. This is purely an exercise of doing something different than other competing schools and not a true celebration. I don’t think students even aware that this is day of Ma Saraswati and people are supposed to wear yellow on this auspicious day. Thanks to globalization these festivals sooner or later are going to be member of museums and parts of the books of ancient history and ‘festivals’ like Valentine’s day and Thanksgiving would take place of them.
Thinking of golden past, (past is always golden even if one had less money to spend on very few options in those days) this sounds weird but even after spending seven years of school age at a place where kite flying runs in the blood of people I never got chance to fly a kite. I was always busy in other activities. Basant is synonymous with Kite Flying. This game was a passion in Punjab especially the border town of Batala, the place I am talking about. Boys would spend all the day on the rooftop during this day. And Basant Panchmi was never less than today’s final match of any cricket world cup for those guys.
They would leave their beds at four in chilling morning and run for roof with their kites and spool of string. Not to mention kites were procured weeks before and threads were specially designed and seasoned. I remember my young friends narrating me the contents of the solution for strengthening string which includes gum, glass powder and ‘mythologically’ pigeon dropping.
Kite flying was never an easy sport and the players of this sport considered them as warriors and would proudly show their injured index fingers with multiple cuts caused by sharp thread while contesting their kites with opponents, trying to cut the other kite loose. Kites and thread spools were like armours and weapons for these warriors. Loudspeakers were installed at the rooftops and challenges were thrown to neighboring warriors. The players would include from age six to sixty. I remember the scene of sky filled with thousands of kites looking like those colored patches holding the sky high and if those kites are withdrawn the sky would fell down.
Down in the street groups of small children with hawk eyes would stay alert like rapid action forces to launch attack for grabbing loose kites and thread. The event would go on for all the day till dark. The warriors would have their breakfast and lunch only at the roof with spools in hand and eyes at sky just like famous Rajput yodha Durga Dass Rathore not getting off his horse for many days in the war field.
But those were good old days. Scene is totally changed now. Kite flying is considered very ‘lower middle class’ these days. Kite shops are gone and kite makers have adopted other ways to earn bread. Very few people are familiar with this festival.
The only community which celebrate all the festivals are traders. They will not loose a chance to put on sale and take advantage of such festivals. These days we came to know about festivals only by the sale ads in the papers. Thanks to them all the festivals look like same. The same stuff is being sold in the markets. There is no difference in Diwali and Republic day. While everything seems stereotype you can’t have the true happiness.
As I wrote earlier I never flew a kite but still I wanted this sport to remain live and Basant (and all our festivals) to be celebrated in true spirit. Don’t know why. May be I am orthodox.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Kati Patang !
Basant is here again.