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Makar Sankranti sees dip in kite sales

Though the markets are flooded with kites but in proportion numbers of buyers were missing.

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Boys play carrom at a shop selling kites in Hyderabad. Makar Sankranti, India’s kite festival is celebrated on 15 January every year : AFP

Along with women, children also look out for the Makar Sankranti festival. While the women folk prepare ‘Til Gul’, children wait for this day when they can fly kites happily. But they are not aware of the fact that it is on this day when many accidents take place while many are killed in accidents (while running after a cut kite).

When AV spoke to Architect, Bhaskar Parikh, about the lack of enthusiasm among people for celebrating Makar Sankranti he said, “Kids nowadays have turned cell phone addict rather than getting out and learn new activities whether it be cultural or social as they find them boring.  I feel cell phones have changed and ruined many things and secondly the parents are either busy with their work or if they have a holiday, they would prefer taking rest instead of going out and teach their kids to get socially and culturally active.  There has been fall in sale of kites because people have become more aware of the environment as hundreds of birds are killed on this day.”

Kids are always fascinated with Indian festivals and one of the most interesting festivals for kids is the ‘Uttarayan’ or ‘The kite flying festival’. When it comes to teaching Science to kids, we at Fundoo Las believe the best way to make kids understand scientific concepts is through experimenting and connecting science with things used in daily life. So kites are the best tool to teach your kids simple concept of aerodynamics in a fun and happening manner, said the firms manager on an anonymous note.

Siddhant Mohite- Social Worker & Entrepreneur said, “With the passage of years, the excitement of festivals is falling down continuously. I remember when I was a kid, I and my friends used to get really excited about flying kites during Uttarayan.”

“Nowadays, there are very few people who care to actually fly kites during the season. The people are losing interest in celebrating festivals day-by-day. Not just Makar Sankranti, but all the festivals are being celebrated low-key because the millennial generation of today was born with phones in their hands and nobody ever encouraged them to actually go out from their houses and fly kites or celebrate festivals!,” he added.

This day is celebrated with great enthusiasm across India. But this year, the excitement seems to be on a low key. Not many people were seen crowding a kite shop to buy kites on this auspicious day in Mumbai.  Though the markets are flooded with kites but in proportion numbers of buyers were missing.

Ramnath a shop keeper in Kandivali told Afternoon Voice, “Bajar Thanda hai (there is no expected business), there can be a sudden rise in the sale tomorrow as most people indulge in last-minute shopping. “Ab to ek do din ka dhandha reh gaye, pehle maheenon chalta tha (Now the business is confined to just one or two days, earlier it used to be a month-long affair).”

On the other hand, heavy rush was seen at shops selling feeni, gajak and other items across the city. Many traders were allowed to keep their shops open till midnight. “Traders of the Dadar market who run shops throughout the day, usually start buying kites after closing their shops. So, keeping our kites shops open in the night is very necessary,” said a trader.

Mrudala Mhatre, a resident of Dahisar said, “These days all the Hindu festivals are losing their sheen, be it Makar Sankranti or Diwali. Earlier this festival day was celebrated as Haldi-Kunku (get-together among women). This is the day when they used to exchange gifts while the men indulged in kite flying. But now, this day is treated as just a holiday and the festival has become just a formality. In fact, there is no place to fly kites, we live in congested chawls alongside roads.”  

Some traders do fairly good business depending on the area they are in. Kites sell the most where there a lot of Gujratis, Marwaris and Maharashtrians reside. But this year, for a change we could see some traders resorting to the use of loud speakers through which they announced, “Chinese manjha mangkar sharminda na karen” (Don’t embarrass us by asking for Chinese-made manjha).

Shivani Lokhande, HR executive said, “Yes, the enthusiasm among today’s youth is eloping somewhere leading to frustration and lack of zeal. The reason may be an unnecessary burden in the form of competition, unemployment, lack of job skills and skill based job etc. The Indian youth presently also faces acute pressure in every field from getting job to performance at the work place. Today’s culture has become way more modernised, the traditional touch is lost in the fast lifestyle. Sale of kites has reduced because people are becoming aware that it causes damage to the birds.”

Said another trader with a word of caution, “We have urged our customers not to leave the manjha the moment a kite is snapped as it might endanger lives. It is better to roll the rest of the manjha after kites snap. By this, no one is harmed.”

Neeraj Gala, Producer said, “Yes, there is a lack of enthusiasm on Makar Sankranti. May be this festival has fallen on a week day. And about the slack condition in kite industry, may be it is because the manjha harms the wildlife and the kite flying also hampers the bird species.”

Though the police have built up considerable pressure to put an end to sale of banned Chinese kite string (manjha) which often causes immense physical damage to humans, animals and birds, it seems the crackdown by cops has not deterred sellers and buyers of that particular product, if market watchers are to be believed.

Neelu Gupte LLP Accountant said, “Although kite flying has been a tradition in India for a very long time, this year there has been a drastic change in the number of people flying kites. It may be due to mobile phones and social media. Children are having studies they are running from one classes to another. Earlier people used to get holidays for celebrating the festival but nowadays they don’t get.”

These razor-sharp strings used by kite fliers without any check poses a threat to the lives of birds and two-wheeler riders in the city. Residents blame the government as well as the authorities concerned for not taking concrete measures to stop the sale and use of these strings. Two-wheeler riders have met with accidents after getting entangled in manjhas attached to broken kites. The Chinese – made manjhas are easily available in different areas as children are seen flying kites with such string.

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