Culture

Kite Flying on Dashain: The Tradition of Nepalese People

Oct 1 2019 By Aayushma B.

As a kid and even now it gives me so much joy seeing those colorful paper kites in the sky.

Kite flying on Dashain meant that it was time for the holidays, festivities and fun.

Although, I’ve never stopped to wonder how and when the tradition might have started.

I asked numerous people about the origin of this tradition.

And as it turns out there are many myths to the story.

Nonetheless, I have listed all the possible stories you might hear from them:

 

Stories and Myths of Dashain

Story 1:

When you fly the kites in the sky, you are letting your ancestors in the heaven know that you are doing fine.

It can also mean that you are remembering them.

 

Story 2: 

It is also believed that historically, people in Kathmandu Valley used to fly the kites in their free times.

However, this game also caused injury to several birds and also killed a few.

Then, the birds called a meeting with the king.

The meeting concluded with the people agreeing to fly kites only one time a year which is during the Dashain Festival.

Thereafter, Nepalese people follow the tradition all over the country.

 

Story 3:

The farming season ends around the month of Asoj as per the Nepalese Calendar.

It has been long believed that the kite flying informs the god of rain, Indra, to stop the rain as the harvesting season is starting.

The Dashain Festival generally falls in the month of Asoj as well.

 

Story 4:

It is believed that Kites are a way to guide the recently released souls to heaven.

The animals and people that die on earth need to find a way to heaven. Thus, kites join the sky and the earth during this holy time.

 

Story 5:

Paper Kites are believed to be a way of sending the message of joy and and wishes.

These colorful paper flights send the message to our friends, neighbour and family of the festivities and happiness.

 

What are These Kites and How are They Made?

People ask if these kites are the same as the ones seen in movies like The Kites Runner.

To bluntly answer the question, NO! However, the kite itself is not much different from the ones that we normally see on TV or the ones that people fly across the world.

But the way that they are made and the materials used are found exclusively in Nepal.

People use Lokta paper, the handmade paper indigenous to Nepal, to make the kites.

And the very name to these kites is “Changa“.

Due to the durability of the paper, its resistance to humidity, insects and tearing makes it the best material for a durable Changa.

But, the strings used for flying are the Catch. The reel used for flying is completely different in Nepal.

These reels are called “Lattyain” in the Nepali Language. It has round smooth sticks on either sides of the spool. The spool generally has 6000 metres of string.

The makers coat their string with powder of ground glass to make it strong. This helps in cutting off other peoples strings while playing.

 

How are the Kite Flying Games Played?

Nepali kite flyers get their satisfaction from bringing the kites of other players down. The ground glass helps cut the strings off.

The kids hold these kites very dear to them and the are emotional attachment to their kites are high.

The  schools, colleges and organizations, organize several kite flying contest.

CHAITT”is a very common word you’ll hear when flying kites on Dashain in Nepal.

The word means that you have cut someone else’s kite and you win!

 

The Reason We Should Continue Flying Kites

 

Carrying the Tradition

When we are flying the kites, we are also teaching our upcoming generations to continue the tradition forward.

The earliest kite flying recorded in Nepalese history dates back to centuries ago.

Playing a game this historic, is thrilling. So, it’s important to keep playing it.

 

Socializing with People

From the monotonous life of working and deadlines, this game is a way of finding time out to spend it with your loved ones.

Backed by the Dashain Vacation, this game helps us relax.

 

Connecting with the Nature

Unlike working in an office inside 4 walls, kite flying allows you to explore and spend some time out in the open.

The beautiful and serene sky during the fall is the best way to spend your holidays.

 

Sports and Competitiveness

Now, people conduct various kite flying competitions. These competitions encourages the activeness of people in sports.

It makes people participate and perform to win the game while also enjoying the festivities.


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