As colourful kites flooded the clear winter sky near India Gate on Saturday, they confused their avian counterparts, who braced for an imminent turf war, even attacking a couple of them.
The birds were shocked but Delhiites, who had come in a picnic mood to the popular monument, were pleasantly surprised on the first day of the two-day Delhi International Kite Festival at the India Gate lawns.
Inaugurated by Delhi minister for education, social welfare, women & child development and languages Kiran Walia, the festival saw enthusiasts and professional kite designers throng the capital from India and abroad. They came from places such as Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Mumbai, Thane and Jodhpur, and also from the UK, France and Indonesia.
“Though this is our second kite festival, it is the first time we have had international participants. We are expecting more than 30,000 people to come and be a part of this two-day fiesta,” chairman of Delhi Tourism Manish Chatrath said.
Visitors were greeted by stalls displaying kites of different sizes, materials like tissue paper, elastic paper, bamboo, cloth and colourful spindles suspended from tree branches. The venue had a special theme pavilion showcasing different types of kites from all parts of the country and abroad.
Food stalls, people selling various goodies and cultural performances were also on offer.
These, however, were secondary to the main action where a cobra (a 110ft kite), an owl, a box, a tortoise and kite trails with more than 100 small kites were fighting it out for aerial domination.
“My day is made. I came with my friends to hang out near India Gate and I am awed by this spectacular show on offer,” Md Tariq, a 17-year-old from Shahdara, said.
A member of Golden Kite Club, Mumbai, Kalpana Kharwa, who was manning the stall of the club while other members were busy keeping an eye on the sky and their own flying machines, pointed out the importance of such events.
“Kite-flying is an outdoor game. With TV and computer in the scenario, children hardly venture out of their living room. These festivals showcase this bright world of being able to fly without wings,” Kharwa said.
Michel Gressier, 58
former professor from Tours, France
As Gressier along with his partner prepared one kite after another for their up-in-the-air moment, the flawless ease and meticulous eye towards detailing was hard to miss.
The end result was the high flyers which went and reached the skies within minutes
and brought glee to the visitors and smile on the face of its designer.
“ I've been designing kites for the past 28 years. I was a teacher in an art school before that and also a painter. However, the passion for making these magnificent mini flying machines became so strong that I had to quit my job. Now I design and make double square, fibule, genki and delta porde from scratch and fly them with pride and pleasure,” the Frenchman said.
Sunder Murthy, 51
Secretary to the general manager at Chennai Petroleum
One of the stalls decorated with numerous multi-coloured kites had just one person doing everything — flying one kite after another, arranging them, answering to queries and even helping other participants at times. This stall was owned by a man from Chennai who had come to take on all the big guns of the skies with his mini fleet of 50 kites.
“Flying kites was my favourite pastime as a kid. Now I am more than just an enthusiast, I am a one-man organisation. All the others here have come as groups or clubs or as duos. I make and fly kites with the passion of bettering the art and have got appreciation not only in India but also in Pakistan, where I was awarded for a kite design,” Murthy said.