On coming 22 June is “Nirjala Ekadasi” the kite flying day of Mewar Region, it is an traditional sport which is on a verge of extinction. Children and grown ups of Udaipur city are these days not interested any more in this, I happened to talk with Mr. Abdul Malik who earned fame and name on international level because of Kite flying, He is the Guinness’s Book record holder for flying 5,000 kites in a single thread, making smallest kite of 2×2 mm and largest kite of 100×100 feet. Here I bring you his story in his own words and what initiatives he is taking to make children and adults gain interest back in Kites.
Please tell something about you and your family background?
I am born and brought up in Udaipur. My family owns one of the oldest automotive repairing workshop. I am the youngest son in family of three brothers and four sisters. I have completed my formal education, pursued the degree of B.A. from M.L.S.U.
Is Kite flying your profession?
No, it is my passion, I own a business firm “Sanjaree Tours & Travels” I provide the service of car rental. But these days Kite Flying is becoming my profession as every month I am invited to a kite festival either in country or abroad.
What prompted you to kite flying?
Kite Flying is in blood of my family. My father and forefathers were also very much indulged in it, after our daily work we all used to fly kites on our rooftops, ladies of our family prepare kites in day time and in evening they hold spool (Charkhi) for us, we not only love to fly kites but also like to make them. Few years ago my father Mr. Abdul Majid tried to fly 7 kites in a single thread but he failed in his attempt. Since childhood I experimented new things in kite flying, so after my father, I tried flying multiple kites in a single thread like 7, 14 and 21 later I realized that if you want to fly many kites you have to experiment with large numbers. I finally succeeded with 200 kites, at that time 175 were air borne; this was done from home only. In the year 1998 I flied 500 kites in a single thread from the bed of Fatehsagar Lake, the press and other people were also invited to see it. That was the first time I was highlighted by media and gained fame as a kite flyer.
How you gained your access to the Kite Festival and what was the achievement?
In the year 2000 Asia Kite Festival was organized in Sri Lanka, Colombo. Invitation was sent to Government of India also, and they were looking for a kite flyer to represent India, they must have learnt about me because of my 500 kite flying in a single thread, therefore Ministry of Art & Culture approached me, selected me to represent India in festival and sponsored me too. There were three competition I won two of them, in first one I flied 100 tri color kites (resembling national flag of participant’s country) and in second creative kite flying competition I had prepared a kite of Subhash Chandra Bose’s cut out and I won the competition and brought home the championship. I also won International award in the year 2002.
Who are your gurus/idols or we can say supporters?
Late Rasool Bhai from Ahmedabad is like my idol who taught me minor details and techniques of kite balancing. Mr. Ashok Shah who resides in Maharashtra helped me get parachute cloth so that I can make colorful kites which are needed for participation in many International Kite Festivals and Competition.
What is the difference in Indian Kite Flyer and Foreign Kite Flyers?
Foreign kite flyers are equipped with better technology and resources. They use carbon rods which are lighter and better as compared to Indian kites with bamboo sticks. They carry a complete guide book on how to fold, unfold or assemble kites with pictorial descriptions and no such thing is available to us, if we forget a single step or make some mistake the performance of kite in air will be seriously affected which may result in losing the game but still we try to give our best and make the nation proud.
In which Countries and Competitions you have participated till now?
I have participated in many Kite Festivals in different countries and cities like Colombo in Sri Lanka was my first competition then I went to Malaysia Johor Bahru, Australia Bondi Beach where there was a traditional kite flying and cutting competition was held, I participated in Istanbul (Turkey) Kite Festival, then Turkish Government extended my visa for another three months to tour entire Turkey and to teach Kite making from paper and P.V.C. by that time kites were made of very thin ply costing around 3-4 dollars each in Turkey. I taught them the entire process. Bamboo is not found in Turkey so I used adhesive solutions and solution of flour in water (layee). Art and Culture Ministry of Turkey facilitated me and I sent bamboo sticks from India so that they can use it in place of other alternatives.
In India I render my services to C.C.R.T. as a guest faculty. I teach how to make kites from waste paper like newspaper or other, in this way I traveled to many cities and centers. My kite flying tour generally starts in month of January. I go to Ahmadabad around 14th of January to participate in Annual International Kite Festival organized by Govt. of Gujarat to attract N.R.I.’s and immediately this event is followed by Vibrant Gujarat where Govt. proposes different investment avenues to them. Second, I go to Bhuj where I am the only person to fly kite at Mandvi Beach. Just after it I leave for Kochi, then Bangalore and finally back to Udaipur.
My foreign trips normally never end, as in Malaysia almost every month a Kite Flying Festival is held. Kites have a position of religious importance in culture of China and Malaysia. There kites are flied at time when crops are standing in fields but is not ready to be harvested.
How you rate the craze or fascination of Kite Flying in our country?
Gujarat is on top, this industry is fully backed by state government; kite manufacturers are provided subsidies and loans. This industry in Gujarat has an annual turn over of Rs 27 Crores. Second is U.P. cities like Meerut, Bareily, Lucknow and areas touching the Nepal border are supposed to be birth place of Kites. Lot of betting, amounting to hundred thousand of rupees is done on kites. People are so crazy that many a times it turn violent. Not only this, you may find hundred or more year old kites having an Antique value in these areas. Kite flying and flyers hold a respectable position in eyes of people in southern states also but ironically it is not the case in Rajasthan or northern parts of country. I and few other renowned kite flyers enjoy same privileges as the cricketers do by the Government. Whenever I have to participate in some festival I am given complete V.I.P. treatment, entire journey is done by flights and local conveyance is also reimbursed, stay is in finest hotels etc.
What all experiments you have done in kite making?
Recently I have made a special hot air balloon from paper and camphor is used to heat the air inside. It costs around 120 Rs. while the other balloons available in market are cost 300-400 Rs. I have designed a kite with such a close resemblance to tiger that you can’t say it is not an original tiger.
What do you feel is the future of Kite in our city or state?
As I told you earlier in our state and city people do not find it very much lucrative, children are diverted to play stations and computer games, this sport is loosing its ground. But my success has given it a new dimension, parents now most of the time does not deny permission of kite flying to their children. I was also working on organizing an International Kite festival in Rajasthan and finally government has approved it and the very first Kite Festival on Rajasthan’s soil will be celebrated on January 5th ,6th and 7th 2011 in Jaipur.
To promote kite flying in city, I have formed a club named Uday Club with my 30-40 friends and we are organizing a Kite Festival on 21-22 June. Venue of this is Fatehsagar lake and time will be 11 a.m. onwards. Kite Decoration and Slogan making Competition will also be held here, We have designed a Chakri Kite (Circular kite in shape of a dish/circle) weighing about 50-60 kg and with a diameter of 250 feet will also be flied with the help of 2 mini trucks. It is being showed to public for the first time. To bring back the craze of kite flying we are planning to distribute 5,000 designer kites specially manufactured from Ahmadabad (from Khambhat precisely). On 22nd a kite flying competition is being held 4 p.m. onwards.
I believe such efforts will definitely yield results one day.