Arts Entertainments

The joy of flying kites

In my country Guiana this time of year is associated with kite making and flying. It is so traditional in my country that when I first lived away from it they took me back Easter arrived and there were no kites.

I recently tried to find out the origins of this tradition. Asking the older people only brought vague answers about it being our way of celebrating the resurrection of Christ. When I started researching the history of kites, I found that both in China and India there was a long tradition of kites. Something clicked. Maybe the Chinese or the Indians brought it to Guyana.

As usual, there are different claims about where comets originated. On some accounts it is China. Other stories say that it started with societies in the South Pacific. The Balinese have a beautiful story about the origin of kites.

Flying kites symbolizes man’s dream of flying. One of the most powerful Greek myths is that of Icarus, who flew on wings but got too close to the sun, melting the wax holding his wings together. Kites even have their own museums and festivals. Ahmedabad Kite Museum in India gives you an insight into the story of man’s joy of flying kites.

Kite flying has not only been a recreation but has played an important role in warfare and science. There is the story of Hsiang Yü, who flew a kite at night to scare off the army of Liu Pang, founder of the Han dynasty in China. This is the old equivalent of our flying Black Hawk helicopters to scare off the Taliban.

There are stories from 100 a. C. until 500 d. C. of generals who used kites to send signals, messages and even weapons. They were used for observation and to measure the distance of enemy camps. A modern version of this is pilotless drones that perform similar tasks.

Many of us have read about Ben Franklin’s kite experiment in 1752. He sent a kite into a storm to show that lightning was made of the same electrical matter that generated electricity. He attached a projecting metal wire to his kite. This caused a flash of lightning as an electrified cloud passed over his kite.

Kites played an important role in the development of airplanes. A major milestone in kite flying was in 1870 when an Australian inventor, Lawrence Hargrave, created box kites whose stability was the inspiration for motor-driven aircraft. Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Cody, and the Wright brothers experimented with biplane gliders and very large man-carrying kites.

According to my research, the most popular countries for kite flying are China, Japan, India, and Thailand. I was intrigued to read about ‘kite fight’. This is something I remember from my childhood. Kite fighters attempt to cut the opponent’s kites using various methods. The technique used in Afghanistan ( Gudiparan Baz. ) where the string for the kite tails is passed through a mixture of ground glass powder and glue so that they are able to cut the tails or the string that controls the kite is very familiar to me. Perhaps my Corentyne cousins ​​had some Afghan ancestry!

Some interesting international traditional kite flying festivals I found are in Greece, India and Pakistan. The Greeks fly kites on the first Monday of Lent. This is known as clean monday. Millions fly kites across North India during the Indian festival of makar sankranti, a spring festival held every January 14 and a public holiday in Gujarat. In neighboring Pakistan, kite flying is done in basis -his spring festival.

Today we have multi-line kite flying, precision flying, and artistic interpretation of music contests. The joy of kite flying continues.

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