As Makar Sankranti approaches, spice trader Sunil Mange makes it a point to look into his collection of kites to pull out the four-foot 'eagle kite' which is his favourite. This year is no different. The 41-year-old plans to go to Dahanu beach to fly the kite as the wind direction is better there with few people around during Navratri. The kite flying craze may have reduced due to a lack of space and high rises making the flow and speed of wind movement erratic, but there are still some enthusiasts who make it a point to enjoy it as a hobby and look forward to Makar Sankranti for a reason to fly kites.
I normally try to fly my kite once every month. I find it meditative. This time I plan to go to Dahanu beach with my children as we have a farmhouse. You need space where a person can hold the kite and run, besides good wind. While flying such a kite, it gains a lot of attraction but once it is in the air, you feel connected to the sky. There is a sense of achievement without the running around that is required. You think you own the sky,” quipped Mr Mange. He added that his daughter who has a 'Barbie kite' and my son with a Spiderman will also fly them. “The good thing about these kites is that you know exactly where to tie the thread. When I was young, I would depend on elders to do that for me,” Mr Mange said.
While Mr Mange prefers the giant-sized kites, many still opt for the regular ones. “In my shop, we have both the normal ones and the special types that have a slightly different design. The kite material was in short supply but the demand was good in this area,” said Muqeem Khan, owner of SS Bareilly kite shop near Bhendi Bazaar. Mr Khan had kites from two inches to nearly three feet in size. “The most popular are the Bareilly kites and manjas (threads) that we make out of cotton. We do not use the Chinese or the nylon ones that are dangerous,” added Mr Khan.
Due to the rising instances of nylon manjas that have fine glass on them that have led to injuries and given life-threatening cuts to birds, animals and humans, the Mumbai police have banned its usage, sale and storage for the purpose of flying kites. The order issued by Vishal Thakur, Deputy Commissioner Of Police (Operations), Greater Mumbai, states that they are banned from Jan 12 to Feb 10, 2023, and those violating the order will be charged under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobeying lawful order of public servant). The order goes on to describe them as non-biodegradable as they remain for a long time and cause damage to ecology and harm animals if they ingest them.
“Instances of harm to birds and animals have reduced but we make it a point to be there to save them if there are any injuries to them. Anyone who finds an injured bird or animal can get in touch with us,” said Sandeep Shah of bird helpline Reshmo Jiv Daya.