Jan 162014


 Kites & Fanush Flying Festival on Sankranti

Sankranti also known as Pongal is a major Indian Festival and one of the few Hindu festivals based on the solar calendar. Essentially a harvest festival it is celebrated with great fervor in agrarian communities. In Punjab, it is celebrated a day before Sankranti or Sankranthi in form or Lohri and in south India it is called Sankranti or Pongal depending on the region. Kite flying is a major tradition in India on Sankranti, though in parts of India kites are also flown on 15th of August, to celebrate Indian Independence Day. If you have watched some of the ads on TV recently even Google is using a kite flying scene in one of its ads. In another TV commercial, Big B is flying kites and thoroughly enjoying the same with kids.  Another major tradition on Sankranti is to decorate houses with colorful rangolis.

I myself am not into kite flying because of my love for birds as I feel the manjha ( मांझा> the string used to fly kites) of kites can harm birds in a big way. But that does not stop me from watching others flying kites and clicking pictures of kites.  It is not very easy to take pictures of kites flying due to many reasons like

  • Constant movement of kites and kite flyers
  • Large distance between kites and the flyers so it is very tough to get both of them in the same frame
  • In evening light is not good to click good pictures.

But all these excuses could not stop me from visiting Hyderabad Polo & Riding Club or HPRC near Mrugavani National Park to click pictures of Kite Festivals.  Nowadays due to lack of open spaces in the city and no concept of open terraces in most buildings kite flying is tough so I was happy to visit HPRC and see hundreds of people flying kites in the open space where normally horses gallop.

So without taking much of your time let me just take you on a kite flying day and evening.  I say evening also because even sunset did not dampen the spirit of kite flyers and they continued in flood lights.  Soon it was time to fly sky lanterns and we had blue, orange, yellow and white sky lanterns competing with kites to control Hyderabad Skies.

kites charkee sky lanterns for sale

Kites of all shapes and sizes

When I was a kid only normal rhombus shaped kites were in vogue, but today you get kites of all shapes and size. I saw kites in shape of a Bat, dragon, multiple kites and even paper lanterns to fly with kites.

dragon shaped kite

Today Kites come in all shapes and sizes

But you can not fly a kite without a Charkhee, on which the manjha is rolled. Each kite flyer has a team and one of them is responsible for making sure that manjha rolls and releases smoothly when you are in a kite fight.

colorful Charkhees for flying kites

Colorful Charkhees to roll the manjha  or string

But no matter how many kites you have, there is no better fun than getting one that has been cut by somebody else. I still remember risking my life and limb as a kid to get hold of a kite stuck in a tree.

boy with kite climbing tree

No bigger fun than trying to get somebody else’s kite

kite stuck in a tree

Kites Stuck in A Tree

girl running with kite

Look I got one 🙂

multi layered kite in sky

Multi-Layered Kites in Sky: They are very tough to fly

man flying kite

Kite flying is serious business and you can forget everything

kite flying team girl holding charkhee

Kite Flying is teamwork

But if you thought Kite flying Bachon ka khel hai to think again as Rajkumar would have said

” Janee yeh bachon ke khelne kee cheez nahin hai, haat kat jaye toh Khoon Nikal Ata hai”

dialogue from famous actor Rajkumar” It is not a plaything for kids, if you will bleed if it cuts your hand” of-course he said it in reference of a Rampuri Chaku. But kite manjha can cut your hands and bleed you. Remember I don’t fly kites because the string can harm birds. But I am no body to preach you. Anyways if you thought kite flying is only for kids look at the picture below.

a women in saree flying kite

So you thought kite flying is for kids?


Kite flying in night

We are creatures of dark: We fly kites

Fanush Flying Festival

Soon it was time for Sky Lanterns or Fanush as they are called locally. Now making and flying a Fanush or Sky Lantern which is an art in itself. Release a sky lantern too soon and it will fall on the ground, hold it too long and you will burn your hand and the lantern. The Fanush or Sky Lanterns are mostly associated with Chinese and Buddhist festivals in South East Asia like the Sky Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai and Loi Krathong festival in other parts of Thailand.  Based on some Google Gyan, the one of the first organized Fanush making and flying in India started in Kolkata by a certain Mr. Dey  Darjipara of  North Kolkata in 1912. Slowly the Fanush flying became integral with Kali Puja ( Diwali is celebrated in Bengal more as Kali Puja but on the same day as Laxmi Puja better known as Festival of Lights Diwali ).  Today many Sky Lantern festivals or Fanush flying festivals are organized all over India and we were attending one such in Hyderabad.    You need to know just when to release it. Hint: It will start putting a bit of upward pressure when ready to launch.

So coming back to the question ” How do you know when is the right time to release your Fanush or Sky Lantern? “

 Answer:  You need to know just when to release it. Hint: It will start putting a bit of upward pressure when ready to launch. As the Fanush works on the principle of Hot Air Balloon and as it starts getting filled with hot air it wants to rise higher in the sky. Leading me to the conclusion – “The more hot air you have the higher you want to go 😛 ”

Here are some tips on Sky Lantern or Fanush Flying:

  • Make sure you are on open ground away from buildings and trees
  • Kids should be kept at a distance and not allowed to play with fire.
  • Make sure your Fanush or Sky Lantern is held perfectly vertical so that it goes straight up and not sideways.
  • Make sure you are not wearing loose free flowing clothes as they can easily catch fire.
  • If it is too windy avoid flying Fanush as the Fanush may not go higher up and move sideways to buildings close by.
Fanush Flying Festival

Soon it was time to fly sky lanterns

flying sky lanterns locally called Fanush

Sky Lanterns aka Fanush flying in air

Fanush Flying sky lanterns

Fanush Flying is an art


So what do you say? Are you a kite flyer of just an observer like me? Feel free to leave your view in comments, whether you fly kites or just watch them flying both are OK with me. Only one request try not to harm any birds when you are flying kites.

Other posts about Festivals of India

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  13 Responses to “Kite & Fanush Flying on Sakranti”

Comments (13)
  1. colorful and nice mood 🙂

  2. Wonderful post and beautiful photos.Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Brilliant… The flying lanterns were practiced in Thialand too.

  4. Your skywatch photo fascinated me so I was delighted to find all the images and the detailed description of kite flying on your blog – lovely!

  5. great collection of photos, kite flying is such a fun way to celebrate and play outdoors

  6. Hey nice pictures. I also went to HPRC but was too early for people to pour in and had to come back with only few snaps. 🙂

  7. What amazing shots – so magical!

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