Kite Flying (پتنگ بازی) is one of the most cherished and celebrated festivals of Lahore. While Patangbaazi goes on around the year, it gets the peak attention at the arrival of the Spring season. The very first day of Spring Season is the most beautiful day in Lahore when the sun rises with the celebrations of Basant. The annual kite festival Basant (بسنت) festival is now referred to as Jashan-e-Baharan (جشن بہاراں). The sky cannot be more splendid when embellished with beautiful kites of an enormous variety.
This is a part of Lahori culture and a priceless asset to the people of Punjab. It eradicates the unappreciated distinction between the elite and the poor. Everyone has a rooftop and that is the only vital requirement for flying kites.
Some may opt for an open area like a playground to show their best skills of hand movements, required to keep your kite dominant at an escalating height.
The rooftops (چبوترہ) are the excellent places to find perfect winds to thrust your kite straight into the atmosphere without much toil. Children run; scaling every wall on the adjacent rooftops of Lahore just to get hold of stray kites.
There are contests and competitions organized at various places of Lahore that award handsome prize money to winners. The winning prize also includes a trophy.
The colorful variety of kites includes Sharla (شرلا), Paree (پری), Guddi (گڈی), Tukkal (تکل), Patang (پتنگ), Gudda (گڈا), Pona Taawa (پونا تاوا), Taawa (تاوا), Do Tawaa (دو تاوا), Paannch Tawaa (پانچ تاوا), Das Tawaa (دس تاوا), Bees Tawaa (بیس تاوا) and so on goes the long list you might never comprehend in one read. Kites are designed and produced in the bazaars of Bhaati Gate (بھاٹی گیٹ ), Lohari Gate (لوہاری گیٹ), Badami Bagh (بادامی باغ) and other settlements in the Walled City.
This is a business that feeds thousands of families. You will find kites in almost every shop, in old Lahore. You can buy the best quality kites and threads (ڈور) in this area. The threads are adorned with some sharp crystal pieces especially powered glass that sticks to the thread when wet called Manja (مانجا) and gets dry in sunlight. The premises of Data Darbaar (داتا دربار), near Badami Baghi, is also the perfect place for high-quality kites and threads to buy.
This festival of Basant finds its hub in the Walled City (اندروں شہر لاہور). This place is the most densely populated characterized by congestion and narrow streets. People here, have lesser access to playgrounds and open areas for keeping themselves engrossed in some social activities. So Patangbaazi is considered an opportunity to socialize, cope with their boredom and relief from their daily worries.
Unfortunately, a few years back, this activity was abducted by the elite classes of society. There were reports of Ariel Firing on Basant occasion by some privileged youngsters and the illegal use of spindle motors for rolling back threads faster, which makes it more fatal than a sword, leading to deaths and injuries of motorcyclists. Lahore High Court took notice of these caualities and placed a ban on Patangbazzi responding to the government’s appeal.
With Patangbaazi uprooted, now the Lahoris are deprived of their beloved activity, that everyone could afford to appreciate.
Lahoris are always demanding that the government should consider alternatives to revive Basant. They may create policies of abolishing the use of motor spindles, ensuring the rooftops are walled and asking people to avoid riding two-wheelers during the controlled days of Basant festival.
Many renowned personalities have made attempts to revive this custom in our culture by suggesting better solutions to the tragedies it might bring with it. Yousuf Salahuddin (Allama Iqbal’s grandson) has been the most influential in watering the dried roots of this festivity. He is also spreading awareness of the long term opportunities it might bring along with all hopes up for the return of Basant festival.
It was a part of life and culture that people still cherish and few, even now, continue to fly kites in the calm evenings of Lahore.