No kites this Basant too!


Basant enthusiasts would have to spend another year without the festivities as City District Government Lahore (CDGL) sources on Wednesday revealed that ban on the kite-flying festival would be upheld, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Official decision on Basant festival is still to be out as a committee head by District Coordination Officer Noor-ul-Amin Mengal deliberates on the fate of the annual festivities. However, sources in the CDGL claimed that the ban on the kite-flying festival would continue and that this decision had been taken in the “larger interest” of people. Kite-flying is traditionally associated with the spring festival of Basant and marks an important cultural event in province. However, over the last few years it has resulted in loss of life as well as levied a cost on the purse of the city government.
A senior CDGL official on the condition of anonymity said the ban was imposed because the media had highlighted incidents of death caused by people falling from high places or motorcyclists entangled in deadly kite string during the festival.
Talking to Pakistan Today, a resident of Mozang Sehroz Alam said, “We really have no one to blame except for ourselves for this ban. It is the collective failure of the entire city for such untoward incidents and it is easy to blame the government when they occur.”
He added that perhaps it was a fitting punishment that a festival of joy that had caused so much misery was banned.
The decision to ban Basant was not welcomed by all citizens. Emminent socialite Yousaf Salahuddin was of the view that if proper safety precautions were taken, there was no reason why the festival could not continue. He said that if motorcycles were banned during the event, it could save a lot of lives being lost because of the deadly string. He said that Basant was of immense economic importance to the city as it led to sales of kites and also placed the city on the cultural map of the world. He added that if the government made announcements for the festival in advance, precautionary measures could be taken to avoid loss of life. According to a kite-maker, there were about 25,000 families involved in making kites. They were facing financial hardships because of the ban on Basant.
“People who have been in the kite-making business for years have no other means to earn their livelihood,” he said.
Muhammad Shafi, a kite string maker, said that his family had been in the business for decades and did not know any other work, so they suffered greatly over the last few years. “My mother died because I didn’t have the money for her treatment,” he said.A Lahore-based kite maker also added that the ban on Basant in the city had caused him to take his business elsewhere. “Many kite lovers still enjoy flying kites in other districts regularly. This has kept many kite-making businesses to thrive despite the ban,” he said.

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