On January 15, the city marks Makar Sankranti, the day when hundreds of kites dot the sky, and, like all joyous festivals, this is an occasion for camaraderie and friendly competition with your opponents. This is about whose kite can fly higher, and whose kite can be cut and brought crashing down to the ground. Yet, it is always important to remember that you do not throw caution to the wind while celebrating.
Sankranti means that young people and the not so young, as this is a festival for all ages and in fact, adults revel in the fact that it brings back the innocence of childhood, get caught up in the fervour of competitive kite flying, Kite flying is joyful, innocent and even a great eye-hand coordination sport. It can result in tragic consequences though, if not practiced with care and respect for others. There have been many times when people have been seriously injured by the kite string (manzaa). In extreme cases, throats have been slit. A cyclist was caught in a kite flyer’s manzaa and his throat got cut as a result. Mo-bike riders too have been victims of similar mishaps.
Kite enthusiasts need to stick to open spaces as much as possible, or be extra careful of the people around, as the string can cut and cause huge problems, in extreme cases, even death. This is especially true in space-starved, traffic-choked Mumbai. If you are flying a kite on the roads, be especially alert for passing pedestrians and two-wheelers.
Children too, need to be supervised when they fly kites. Bird injuries and fatalities are another unfortunate aspect of the festival. Keep all this at the top of one’s mind, when flying.
Also if one’s kite gets caught in a power line, it is important to know that you must not touch the power line or the kite. The electricity can travel down that line. It is better to abandon the kite altogether. It is important that you be in control of your kite, do not let your kite control you. Kites are light but the responsibility on kite fliers is heavy. Execute it with caution and thought for others.