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The joy of flying kites

In my country Guiana this time of year is associated with the making and flying of kites. It is so traditional in my country that when I lived far from it I was surprised that Easter It arrived and there were no kites.

I recently tried to find out the origins of this tradition. Asking older people only brought up vague answers about what our way of celebrating Christ’s resurrection was. When I started researching the history of kites, I discovered that both China and India had a long tradition of kites. Something clicked. Perhaps the Chinese or the Indians brought it to Guyana.

As usual, there are different claims about the origin of kites. In some accounts it is China. Other stories say that it began with the societies of the South Pacific. The Balinese have a beautiful story about the origin of kites.

Kite flying symbolizes man’s dream of flying. One of the most powerful Greek myths is that of Icarus, who flew on wings but got too close to the sun, melting the wax that held his wings together. Kites even have their own museums and festivals. Ahmedabad Kite Museum in India gives you an insight into the history of man’s joy in flying kites.

Flying kites has not only been a recreation, it has also played an important role in warfare and science. There is the story of Hsiang Yü who flew a kite at night to scare the army of Liu Pang, founder of the Han dynasty in China. This is the old equivalent of our flying Black Hawk helicopters to scare off the Taliban.

There are stories from 100 a. Until 500 d. C. of generals who used kites to send signals, messages and even weapons. They were used for observation and to measure the distance from enemy camps. A modern version of this is pilotless drones that perform similar tasks.

Many of us have read about Ben Franklin’s kite experiment in 1752. He sent a kite in a thunderstorm to show that the lightning bolts were made of the same electrical matter as the one that generated electricity. He attached a protruding metal wire to his kite. This attracted lightning when an electrified cloud passed over his comet.

Kites played an important role in the development of airplanes. An important milestone in kite flying was in 1870 when an Australian inventor Lawrence Hargrave created box kites whose stability was the inspiration for powered airplanes. Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Cody, and the Wright brothers experimented with very large biplane kites and gliders that carried men.

According to my research, the most popular countries to fly kites are China, Japan, India, and Thailand. I was intrigued to read about ‘kite fights’. This is something I remember from my childhood. Kite fighters attempt to cut the opponent’s kites using various methods. The technique used in Afghanistan ( Gudiparan Baz. ) where the string from the kite tails is passed through a mixture of ground glass powder and glue so that they are able to cut the tails or the string that controls the kite is very familiar to me. Maybe my Corentyne cousins ​​were of Afghan descent!

Some interesting traditional international kite flying festivals that I found are in Greece, India, and Pakistan. Greeks fly kites on the first Monday of Lent. This is known as Clean monday. Millions of kites fly across North India during the Indian festival of Makar sankranti, a spring festival held every January 14 and a public holiday in Gujarat. In neighboring Pakistan, kite flying takes place in Basant -his spring festival.

Today we have multi-line kite flying, precision flying and artistic music performance competitions.

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