Friday, January 15, 2010





- Fr.  Cedric  Prakash  sj *


Its Makar Sankranti once again! The skies are dotted with every possible colour, shape and size.  It is festival time indeed!  However, the festival also provides us with ample opportunities to chalk out a road map for the days ahead.


Kite-flying is spiritual!  It is a simple and effective way of allowing our prayers and supplications to soar to the Almighty.  Historically, it is a prayer of thanksgiving for the long wintry nights just gone by and a prayer of hope for the longer days from now onwards.  It is about allowing ourselves to feel the tug of the string even when the kite is not visible.  It is perhaps, for many, one way of connecting with the Divine or the Unknown.


Kite-flying is harmony!  We need to be grateful to the Nawabs of yesteryears who propagated kite-flying as a source of entertainment and amusement.  Perhaps they never realized that it would become a 'key element' of Makar Sankranti in Gujarat and in some other parts of India.  Then there are the skilled artisans, mainly Muslims from Uttar Pradesh who deftly use their fingers in splicing the bamboo, dexterously sticking them onto coloured tissue, to fabricate something fascinating for all to enjoy.


Kite-flying is diversity! There is perhaps no other festival which literally brings out everyone: the old and the young, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, ethnicity.  There, are the professionals but the under belly also plays its role effectively.  The 'kite runners' of the city who dangerously avoid speeding traffic, just to catch a kite which had attained its freedom!  A true celebration of diversity!


Kite-flying is team work!  Synchronization and synergy is also important for real fun.  A kind of togetherness is on the anvil: the way one holds the 'firki' or perhaps helps in the "hoist"; there is the competitive element involved but it is the spirit of co-operation which is uppermost.


Kite-flying is, above all, the cutting edge! To relegate this festival to 'undhiyu and jalebi', to cries of "Kaapiyo chhe" and "lapeting the manjaa" or political gimmicks, is basically to have missed the totality of the festival.  The fact is that so much good can stem from it, if we could live the spirit of the festival for the rest of the year.  The greatest challenge is for each one of us, therefore, is to ensure that kite-flying truly becomes the cutting edge!




(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)



14th January, 2010