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Basant

Basant, the Festival of Kites, is said to be originated in Punjab. It has been cursed as an hobby. In the cities of Punjab such as Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi, basant is the time when skies are filled with kites of all colors.
It is spring, the trees are in blooming, and everyone in the city is carried away by the light-hearted beauty of the kites. Capricious breezes blow and the kite makers get busy bending splints of bamboo and gluing on brightly colored tissue paper to fashion kites that people will buy to fly over the city. Everyone takes up residence on the roofs to watch and participate as the spring winds whip brilliantly colored diamond-shaped paper kites into the air in such quantities that you can barely see the sky above. Against that deep, cool blue there will be thousands of kites, criss-crossing like a swarm of crazed butterflies. Boys of all ages prepare for the event by buying and making kites of tissue and sticks, as well as by craftily applying bits of ground glass to their own kite strings in order to cut the opponent's string and reign victorious over any and all kites in reach of their own.
The kites of Basant are warriors, glorious opponents who battle for control of all they survey. Once the kite is air-borne, it is an open invitation to a severing contest - the painch. The kite's weapon is its maanjha - its wickedly armored string, which the kite flyers of Basant spend many days preparing, and the treatment of which is an art in itself. The string is coated in a mixture of rice paste and ground glass to strengthen it and render it capable of slashing through a hapless opponent's maanjha.
The kites of Basant are beautiful even in combat. They must fly at a considerable height so that the string can harmonize with the flow and direction of the wind. To attack, kite flyers must maneuver their kites in a hawk-like swoop across the sky, cross their opponent's string and move swiftly up and down to sever the rival string at its weakest point. There are many more techniques for maneuvering and combating, each deadly, yet requiring skillful and quickness of hands and fingers.
Today, the basant is considered a traditional and cultural event. Kite industry, eventhough small yet rapidly expanding, has brought engineering developments in this art. The string, or the maanjha, is made of very precise quantities of chemicals which is exported to India.
   
   


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