The spirit of freedom scaled colorful heights throughout the capital’s skies when thousands of professional and amateur kite fliers took to the rooftops and streets to celebrate the Independence Day ritual of kite-flying Aug. 15.
"Kite flying as a tradition is much older than the Olympics. In the capital, kite flying as a public sport goes back much before Independence Day, almost 80 years before the country freed itself from the British rule. Now, it is a dying tradition because the present generation does not know how to fly kites," Sudhir Sobti of Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation said.
Delhi Tourism organized a day's kite flying festival at the Garden of Five Senses at Mehrauli in the capital, where kite fliers from Old Delhi, the birth place of the tradition, came to show off their ability to fly multiple kites on a single thread.
Kite flying as a tradition grew out of Old Delhi where artisans still make a variety of kites. The oldest and biggest kite market is Lal Kuan, where kite flying originated as a sport.
Some historians say the tradition dates back to the days of the Mahabharata, one of the major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Kites were not only used for receiving messages but also for measuring distances during war.
Kite fighting is the most exciting feature of flying kites. The Indian fighter kites are crafted from thin paper, which allows the kites to fly higher. The thread hoisting the fighter kite is strengthened with crushed glass, egg, pigeon droppings and wax so it cannot be snapped or cut by rival kites.
Kites to most new fliers in the capital have deeper symbolism. "The kite is a symbol of our freedom and the height at which it soars is a message to the world of what we can achieve," Diksha Gulati, a college student, said.
Marketplaces were packed with people, including foreign tourists, who bought kites by the dozens.
*Elements of the above excerpted from “Kites fill Delhi skies in spirit of freedom” – The Times of India