Happy Makar Sakranti!
Especially in North India, the festival of Makar Sakranti is celebrated by flying kites and having contests of kite-flying, or as the local dialect would say: “Pench ladana” and “Patangbazi“. Winds move at ample speeds for flying kites, without which it is very difficult to get the kite flying. Passion and craze for kite flying varies from region to region of North India, but Rajasthan has special enthusiasm reserved for Makar-Sakranti. Flying a kite requires a bit of skill and technique and isn’t as easy as it may look even with favorable wind. Learning how to fly is a bit of challenge too and taught me how to be patient, determined, work hard and some other life lessons which I find very amusing to have learnt that way. We will definitely look into in detail.
As a small boy, I was hyper-active (as my mother has always pointed out), and I had very little patience in me, and would get angry very easily. I recognized kite flying or “Patangbazi“, when I was 7-8 years old, and one of my elder cousin was flying one. I was fascinated how he was controlling the directions of motion of kite, with agility and mastery. He handed me the string for a while to fly, and the way I felt tension in string due to that high flying kite, and the way kite moved higher and higher with every gentle pull, I was fascinated by it and it gave me an altogether different feeling, as if….as if I was flying and not the kite. Yes, at that tender age too, I was able to imagine myself up there in the sky.
After a while, I remembered that feeling again and asked Mummy for money to buy a kite for myself and and a whole roll of string or “Dor” or “Manjha“. I came back, imitated the way “kanne” or the initial A shaped string loop is tied on the kite and to which the main “Dor” or string is tied to fly a kite. Now “kanne” are tied in a special way, they should not be too short, or the kite will feel heavy on pulling, and they shouldn’t be too long or it would feel like a “lappu patang” (flimsy kite which is very difficult to fly in absence of wind). I was tying them for the first time and I tied it too short, and the thing didn’t fly even though I tried my level best to imitate everything my elder cousin would do. That was my first lesson: Get the basics right. Mere imitations don’t fetch you good results.
I some what got hang of how to tie “kanne”, though I still face a little difficulty 😀 but that is another issue (some people can’t ride a bike, keep that in mind!), but again flying a kite requires practice and anticipation. Let me describe you the process a bit: You place your kite(the topmost part) in the direction of wind, a meter ahead of your toes and pull the “Dor” hard to get it flying, if wind is not there then toss the kite in air and then fly it with short, gentle pulls or “Thumkas” or “Talles” (different terminology for different regions 😉 ), to get air flowing around kite and make it fly. For beginners tossing and Thumkas (as was used in my area) is a bit difficult, and there is a practice of “Chutti”. “Chutti” are basically of 2 types: 1. Involves another member to stand at a distance of couple of meters from you and he/she tosses the kite as high as he/she can and the “Patangbaaz” would then give the kite “Thumkas” to keep it floating in air. 2. Usually “Patangbaazi” is done on terrace and one would suspend the kite over the boundary of terrace, step back a couple of meters and then pull the kite over the terrace boundary with speed and kite would fly due to air flow around it. (This is bit difficult to imagine, I would be happy to give a demonstration sometime 🙂 )
Now I usually practiced alone, and would go for second type of “Chutti”. I once lowered the kite so low from the boundary in hope of a “Good Chutti” that some kid on street caught my “Patang” cut the “Manjha” with his teeth and ran away. I was so upset and ran towards mummy with almost tears in my eyes (I am attached to my things 😉 ) and narrated the whole incident. Mummy calmly smiled and instead of cursing or scolding that random boy who stole my kite, she said: “So what, you also lowered your kite much low na, and gave him unfair advantage. People will take advantage only if you allow them to.” Lesson learnt: People will take your advantage if you let them to, and also this world is cruel.
Now I was getting better at start of kite flying, but the flight time wasn’t enough and kite would end up on ground moments after the flight. This was the most difficult stage. I have to learn to anticipate the kite movement, adjust my grip on “Dor” accordingly and decide when to give a “Thumka” or not. Requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and kind of helps in sports too. I was a small kid, and there were kids younger than me who had mastered this step. I would feel embarassed that I was finding it so much difficult. I started analyzing my each attempt to fly the kite, and would think what I did wrong and could have done better. First of all, I was supposed to pull the string only when kite’s top is pointed upwards, as kite moves in the direction its top is pointed. Then if kite is swirling, 360 degree, at a very fast pace, then don’t hesitate whether it will go up or down or side way, JUST PULL. It will stop swirling and you will be able to control better. The biggest conclusion from the analysis was that: I was thinking too much, I was too conscious of my surrounding, and hence was concentrating too much on technique and wasn’t relying on intuition developed from anticipation.
When I look back, I realize the lessons learnt from that last step: Its okay to have younger people excelling better than you. Everybody has their learning capabilities and with time, everyone reach the same level, they just have to remain patient. Also, like kite, if life seem swirling very fast, and you don’t which way to go, just select a random one and take a couple of steps, this way you will be able to get hold of it. And the most important of all: “Thinking too much about anything, over doing something….though with right intentions, might not produce good results”. Hence, LET GO, have guts to trust your instincts, anticipate and move as your gut feeling tells you to. Not everything needs to be calculated. Over the time, we get the hang of it, and things become easier.
Today after 9-10 years from that first kite flying experience, I can fly a kite, fight a “pench” =, sometimes I might win and scream “WO KATAA” or “BA KAATE” or “WO MARA” and on other times I might have to accept the defeat and without giving up I would have to quickly pull my “Manjha” back (not completely giving up after defeat, another life lesson!). Sometimes I would have someone by my side to hold my “Charkhi” (spool holding the manjha) and sometimes I might be alone and would have to hold the “Charkhi” myself on my toes raised a bit(self innovated solution to an other wise serious problem of hindered flow of “Manjha” B| ), sometimes I might fly my kite so high that my “Manjha” would end and my “Saddaa”(the non lethal simple string) would start, at which point I would have to pull my kite down a bit, thus teaching me that life is not unlimited hence spend only what you have got and always save from what you get, so that life doesn’t fly with “Sadda”.
There are a lot of memories attached with this festival, school friends assembling on terrace and having truck load of fun and laughter, playing cricket in evening, fireworks in night, Til ke Laddu, Mummy ke hath ke bread-rolls, and dhaniye ki chatni and pakode, “Patang lootna”, “Pench Dekhna” and having friendly “Penche ladana” with neighbour to prove kite supermacy. Endless memories!! 🙂 This taught me that “Life will only happen once, and you need to live every moment of it, as then only its memory will stay with you and the moment would never return”.