Regional News

Princes and paupers, all pull strings

While the Indian subcontinent was burning in the flames of Partition, history has it that Hindus and Muslims of Jaipur were fighting it out for the dominance in the sky. At 85, Nizam Bhai does not have too many memories of that' dangal of tukkal' ( fight of the kites) that kept the city busy, and miles away from the Partition madness, during 1947. But he still remembers that his team had won.

" I was representing the Hindus, who had promised me a tin of badam ka halwa as prize", remembers Bhai."My kite remained unbeaten in the air for 48 days, and when the Muslims finally gave up, there was celebration all around. The Muslims were the first to hug me." That September 1947 day in the Bhattion Ki Basti of the walled city, was one of the milestones in the history of kites. A history that is almost as old as Jaipur.

Legend has it that Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh once decided to entertain the wind god like no one else had. He would play with him, the Maharaja decided. Bright, colourful kites were instantly designed and flown in the sky.

During those days, kites were called tukkals. The Maharaj used to invite designers and kite-fliers from all over the world and then organise competitions in the jungles sorrounding Amer. An entire cavalry from his army used to be deployed for bringing back the kites that crossed the jungle.

Kite-fliying competitions used to be organised till the third quarter of the 20th century. Kite-fliers used to come from every part of the country for the championships in Jaipur. The kites were used as gladiators who used to enter the Sah ki kushti( battle of the thread). The participants used to give dheel (thread) to their kites till they disappeared from site, and then place bets on the kites.

Master kite-fliers used to be treated as heroes then. " People used to watch Dilip Kumar Sahab's films and my skills, that was all they cared for during those days."

All that has changed now. Nizam Bhai, along with his long time foe, Munni Bhai, are the only living members of that tribe of kite-fliers. Sah ki kushti has become a mere memory as people now believe more in keeping their kites flying short.

" Earlier people used to fly kites for three months before Sakranti. Kite flying as a hobby has died. What has remained of it is just a festival," says Madho lal, who has a kite shop at the Ajmeri gate.

" TV killed the kite. It's no longer fun to sell and fly them. It's mere business," he said.

  • Don't run after kites on the road. Your life is far more precious than a two-rupee kite.
  • Parents, do keep track of your kids.

  • Don't run after kites on the terrace-many a time, terraces do not have boundary walls and you may fall down.
  • Scooter/ car drivers, do be careful of kids scampering across to grab a falling kite.
  • Don't lean against a wall while flying a kite, there are many instances, it increases walls collapsing.
  • Children, do fly your kites bang in the middle of the terrace so that you have ample space to run and walk back and forth while' ladaoing pench'
  • Don't play the music too loud, remember, it increases noise pollution.
  • Do put sticking plaster on your fingers before that mother-of-all-battles.
  • Keep an eye for scooterists - the manjha can come in their way causing severe injuries to them.
  • Do keep a first-aid kit handy.
  • Do eat a lot of til, pheeni, revari.
  • Do drink a lot of water, so that you don't get dehydrated.
Ajmer Alwar Baratpur Chttoregarh Jaipur Jaisalmer Jhalawar Jodhpur Kota Kumbhalgarh Mount Abu Pushkar Ranakpur Sawai Madhopur Shekhawati Udaipur