HAPPY MAKKAR SANKRANTI…
I fondly recall my years spent inGujarat(Bulsar and Baroda- 1954 to 1986 I recall) where today is/ was celebrated as a “Kite Flying Day” all over. People used to climb on roof tops. They used to shout at the top of their voices when someone’s kite got cut. Some people used to create a noise by banging a rolling pin (“belan”) against a steel or brass plate (“thaali”) when they successfully cut a neighbour’s kite. “Pench Ladana” was a term used to show a competition between two or more kite flyers, who would dodge each other cleverly by manipulating the string and trying to have an advantage to pull down another’s kite. It was a real feat and one felt a sense of pride to keep one’s kite up in the air safe from the others’ kites. The sky is full of coloured kites of all shapes and sizes and designs on this day. It is a memorable picture etched in my memory for ever ! Selecting good kites from a kite vendor’s shop is another art.I will not reveal that secret here. Yes, preparing days ahead of Sankaranti by going for hand made “manja” (string covered with powdered glass) at home is another exciting part. Pounding pieces of broken glass into powder an iron mortar and pestle, straining the powder, mixing it with rice paste, applying 2-3 coats on the reel of thread (popular brands :”Sankal 8″ or “Sankal 12” then. Sankal means a chain which was the logo of the thread manufacturers.8 or 12 were the links pictured in the chain.).Coating was done by using two electricity poles near by or behind the house. One fellow goes around the poles carrying the reel (first moistened with water) of “kachha” thread and the other person using his fists full of glass and rice paste, coating the length of string a number of times and then waiting for the string to dry before it was wound on a special wooden reel with two handles on either side (called Charkhi or Phirkee).Kite Flying itself is an art and it needs lot of practise and experience to keep a kite up in the air and protect it from getting cut by other kite flyers. Catching kites which have got cut and which come floating in the air above your roof tops was another enjoyable feat. We used to keep a long bamboo pole with thorny bushes tied on the top at one end (Called a “Jhanda”, handy to entangle the thread dangling from the kite and then bringing it down. Tying the “Kanna” or “Kanni” to the kite was also an art. Properly tied kanna or kanni would ensure a balanced kite up in the air. It is a piece of string tied to the brand new kite by making holes at two distinct places on it and then tying a piece of double string across the holes and finally making a loop at the top where the end of the thread from the charkhi is tied to make it ready to fly in the air. Judging the direction of the wind on that day is another art. We used to pick up a fist full of ash or dry mud and throw it in the air. The direction in which the dust “flew” was the direction of the wind blowing and one has to stand in such a position that the kite is in that direction while your back is opposite to the direction. You may be wondering whether I am writing a thesis on kite flying or what ! Yes I had learnt the fine art from a few seniors who taught me the tricks in exchange for my help to them in preparing manja, pounding glass and making the rice paste-you know doing the dirty work and all. It was sheer fun. No pain, no gain! Oh, the joys of childhood!!
Here in Delhi, that euphoria and madness of Makkar Sankranti kite flying is sadly missing. Some kites are seen flying on 26th January or on 15th August. That is all. It is not a festival like the one inGujarat. Those of you who want to really enjoy this day by eating “til naa laadoos” and shouting from the roof tops, must make it a point to be there today in some big city ofGujaratto really enjoy the fun and frolic and the joi de vivre! “Woh kaata……” the sounds of victory, yelled from roof tops,still linger in my ears.
Wow you write like a professional.Anyway I always thought you were the most intelligent guy when in school. So many years later, I am confirming the thought.
14th Jan 2012
Thanks for sharing your experiences in flying kites. I relived my childhood days in the same vein or ‘manza’ in Hyderabad. Kudos.
Jan 14, 2012
Dear Seshu ji and Kumar ji,thanks for reading and responding with your experiences.Childhood memories are our valuable assets in the balance sheet of our lives.
-J S BROCA
15th Jan 2012
Jatinder ji, kite and manja making are trademarks in Cuttack (Orissa), my native place, too. We used to make it more religiously than any priest even. The used to be full of kites, roads full of young children shouting at the top of their voices… not very different from the scenes of Gujarat. Wonderful thrill, unforgettable experience…
-Jan 14, 2012
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