Home Kathmandu Skies sans kites… dying culture and business

Skies sans kites… dying culture and business

A clear blue sky as seen over the Kathmandu Valley on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. Photo: RSS

Kathmandu, October 5, 2016: The onset of festive season has brought little cheer to the kite traders as their business has plunged steadily in the recent years.

“In previous years, some 80 to 100 children and people of other age groups would come to me to purchase kites, strings and wooden reels every day following the start of autumn. In the recent years, hardly three to four customers visit my shop in a day,” said Asha Maya Shakya, a kite seller based in Chabahil.

Such dismal figures of customers coming to purchase kites from Shakya, who has been in the kite business for more than a decade, is proof that the culture of flying kites during autumn and festive times is declining significantly.

Shakya, who used to sell kites worth around Rs 100,000 around the Dashain festival just four years back, believes that the kite business has come down by more than 95 per cent in recent years.

Among many things, Dashain used to be considered synonymous with kite-flying. A popular recreational activity among the youth, the blue autumn sky used to be dotted with colourful kites and shouts of ‘chet chet’ used to reverberate from the roofs when one managed to cut the string of the other flyer.

However, the skies are still empty this year even as the 10-day Dashainfestival began on Saturday.

Traders involved in the kite businesses like Shakya reiterate the view that the number of customers has fallen drastically in recent years. “Looking at the dwindling number of customers, it makes more sense to quit this business rather than clinging to the hope that things will turn around,” said Sunil Tamrakar, an Ason-based kite retailer, adding that the culture of flying kites has almost died out.

So, what is causing the demise of the kite flying culture which has been practised since years?

People involved in this business opine that children, who are the primary buyers, no longer seem to have the time or the patience to fly kites. Moreover, they feel that with the advent of digital technology, children now prefer to play games in their computers or smartphones rather than go to the rooftops to fly kites.

“Also, children these days do not have much time with most being engaged in their schools or colleges till late in the evenings, leaving them with practically no time for outdoor games or recreational activities,” said Shakya, adding that the availability of digital games in computers and mobile phones, too, have played a crucial role in shifting the interest of the children away from kite flying.

Beside these two factors, Tamrakar of Ason believes that the unavailability of adequate open spaces, unmanaged power lines and high rises have obstructed flyers from flying kites.

Whatever the reasons, traders like Shakya and Tamrakar believe that kite-flying in autumn or basically before the festive season starts is a culture and has to be continued, promoted and preserved. They also opined that kite-flying should be promoted as a game in the country and more kite flying events and competitions should be organised — not only to preserve the age-old culture, but also so that traders like themselves do not go out of business.

By Sujan Dhungana