Those who were brought-up in East Africa, with mild weather, long warm days, plenty of open space and beautiful Indian Ocean on our door-step, outdoor life was inevitable, especially in those care-free post WW2 era when there was no television and even radios and fridges were out of bound for most people. So main entertain for children as well as adult was cricket and football in the evenings and family outings to seaside during week-ends.
Although we did not celebrate festival of Uttrayan on a particular day, flying kite, mainly for children with adult help was popular, especially during long summer months. In fact even in Gujarat, it was not a well-organized event, until then CM of Gujrat, now PM Narendra Modi put it in public domain, as he did with Yoga, now as popular in the West as in India. Even UN has acknowledged Yoga’s importance for health and well-being and declared 21stJune as“International Yoga Day” which falls on Friday this year.
Unfortunately this harmless obscure fun, mainly meant for children, has become a closely contested event, not only many other States participating but also teams of semi-professionals participating from overseas. This has resulted in a “win at any cost” attitude, with no bars barred that has made this once carefree fun a dangerous game, not only for human beings but also for birds and wild-life.
The lustre kites are becoming bigger, larger and decorated with beautiful colours, some made from fine silk instead of paper while the string, mainly imported from China, is laced with grinded glass that makes it lethal, not only to cut lose opponent’s kites but so often it cuts the throat of innocent passers-by, resulting in serious injury, losing fingers or even deaths of some fifty people throughout Gujarat. Another danger is that children fly kites from the highest point possible in a building, from flat roof-top that result in falls from a great height, instantly killing these children.
It is time to regulate, ban such deadly strings, making kite flying as safe as possible, as was the case in East Africa. One suggestion is that it should be banned from city centre where it leads to so many traffic accidents and designate an open, isolated place far from human settlement where everyone can enjoy the fun, without competitive element, a safe sport without danger to other people.