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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 17:50 GMT
India celebrates kite flying
Indian craftsmen dye kite-string for the festival
Indian kite fliers show traditional kite-flying skills

A huge international kite festival is taking place in the western Indian state of Rajasthan to coincide with the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti.

There are no boundaries of caste, creed, colour, religion, nationality or language [flying kites]

Festival organiser Ajay Prakash
The festival was being sponsored by the Nomad Heritage Trust with help from the state government and a few commercial establishments.

It has been organised by kite fliers in the capital city of Jaipur.

In view of the violence in the neighbouring state of Gujarat last year, the organisers are using a theme of communal harmony and peace for the festival.

Stunt flying

Jaipur is well known for its passion for kites, where half of the city can be seen on the roofs of houses, deeply engrossed in the skills of kite flying.

The sky is dotted with thousands of kites of different colours, sizes and styles.

Kites displayed at an Indian stall
Kite flying is a passionate affair for many Indians
Kite flying started in the early morning with music and shouting, and is due to end late at night.

There were foreign fliers from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, France, UK, US, Japan, South Africa and Holland.

The event is seen as an amalgamation of the best of East and West.

Foreign kite fliers demonstrated stunt-kite flying, known as "traction" or "power" kiting, while Indian fliers displayed their skill at flying kites made of paper.

Many of the foreign kites were made of non-rip nylon, which is parachute nylon supported by carbon graphite.

Local tradition

India's master kite designer, Babu Khan, was the centre of attraction as he demonstrated how to fly 500 kites with just one string.

Jaipur street scene
Jaipur is well known for its kite-flying passion

The crowds were fascinated by his kites - with pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses, Mecca and Jesus Christ.

Babu Khan's kites are made of tiny pieces of paper stuck together.

Sixteen teams participated in the festival, according to the chief organiser, Ajay Prakash.

Mr Prakash said: "There are no boundaries of caste, creed, colour, religion, nationality or language. All the barriers drop away when you look up to the sky with a kite in your hand."

Tourist attraction

Local dancers, musicians, puppeteers, artisans and craftsmen add colour to the festival.

BD Kalla, Minister of Tourism, said: "It will bring more and more tourists to Rajasthan and these festivals will be helpful in highlighting Indian culture."

It is the sixth time the international kite festival has come to Rajasthan and has been held in the cities of Jodhpur and Jaipur.

More than two dozen people were injured in Jaipur as they fell from heights while flying the kites.

Hospitals made special arrangements to treat the injured, while a local non-government organisation made arrangements to heal birds injured by kites.

See also:

14 Jan 03 | South Asia
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