Jammu: Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi or for that matter Rakhdi is around the corner and along with sibling love, it also means the time for Kite-flying in Jammu.
The sport of kite-flying may have died in the newer part of Jammu city but go back pul ke us paar into old city and the passion remains intact. People have already started flying kites in old city also popularly known as ‘Sheher’ which is basically practicing for the kite-fights on Rakhi and Janamashtami.
The Chal-Gaiyaas and Bo-Kaatas can already be heard in the alleys of different Mohallas such as Pacca Danga, Paharian, Link Road, Kaleeth Nagar and the zillion other places. All of this is just a big build up to the joy of kite-flying on Raksha Bandhan.
And behind this joy is every kaarigar who cuts his hands in preparing the Dor/Manjha/Kite-String and those who set the special patangi-kaagaz perfectly for your kite to take the highest flight.
We went and spoke to different people and while most string (dor) makers come from Amritsar to Jammu we also chanced upon the oldest kite-maker in Jammu.
The dor makers come every year a month before Raksha Bandhan to prepare the string balls called Pinna in local dialect. Babu Ram, has been preparing these balls of joy for 30 years and this has been a part of his family culture where his father also prepared razor sharp dor for the kite enthusiasts.
The string-makers from Amritsar use cotton thread, which is easily available in Jammu and also add powdered glass that they claim does not hurt anyone at large.
The last few years have seen a dwindling business for these Stringmakers, however, after the entry of the banned Chinese Dor, called Gattu. Babu Ram says that on a yearly basis, the business has gone down by 85 percent. He rues the fact that the government does not do enough to stop the procurement of the Gattu, which has even led to deaths in Jammu, leave alone the injuries and dangers it poses on the pedestrians and two-wheeler riders.
U4UVoice appeals to everyone to stop buying Gattu. One it is Chinese and that directly means that the karigars in India are going out of business because of that. Two it is way deadlier than the cotton thread because it does not break easily or for that matter degrade adding pollution to environment.
Jagdish ji has been making kites for 70 years and like Babu Ram, his passion for making kites comes from family. His grandfather used to make kites as well and he learnt how to make kites from his grandfather.
Jagdish ji was offered a government job by J&K state government but never took it. He says the kite-making business used to stretch for nine months earlier and he was a whole-seller earlier. The kite-making business now is reduced to just one month in Jammu.
He was five when he prepared his first kite and he had sold this first kite to Yuvraj Karan Singh. “Raja Ji paid me Rs 30 for four kites 65 years ago. I was the happiest boy in the world,” says Jagdish Ji.
Jagdish Ji, who completed matriculation, lost his son who was injured playing cricket. He says sadly that his family tradition would get over with him.
He says, “People lost interest in kite-flying mainly because of the poor quality of kites sold in the market. These new people sell kites eighty percent of which don’t fly. Mobiles and gadgets have nothing to do with kite-flying. Those who want to fly kites will fly, provided you give them a good quality kite.”