The people of Hyderabad are all set to take part in the kite festival on Makar Sankranti. They’re stocking up on charaks (spindles), maanja, and of course, kites, known by all kinds of exotic names. You can go for the Ek Kalam or the Do Kalam, you could buy either the Kadi Kamp or the Gol Kamp, or choose the Zebiya, Langoat or the special Dulhan Patang.
To cater to the demand, kite stalls have come up all over the city. But perhaps the most famous destination for those seeking kites and all things related is Gulzar Houz in the old city. Amidst the four arches of the famed Charminar there was once a water fountain at which the Nizam’s soldiers quenched their thirst. But over the last 100 years, the space is taken up by around 150 kite stalls during the Makar Sankranti season. All roads seem to lead across the Nayapul bridge to this space. People come from all over the city to shop for kite-flying supplies. In fact, Venu Gopal Rao, who runs a 50-year-old kite shop in the market, says “People from all over the state visit our stalls, to pick the best for the fest.” Mosin Ali, another stall owner, says “Customers show interest in new trends. During the last two years Bahubali Patangs were hot commodities. Now plastic kites with pictures of movie stars and superheroes are the in-thing. There is also demand for kites from Gujarat featuring cartoon characters.”
The cotton maanja from localities like Dabirpura and Mata ki Khidiki are so famous that there’s demand for it from places as far away as Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The skilled craftsmen of Telangana give the finest finish to varieties of maanja like Gajari, Gandhak, Feroza or Jaaju.
The Hyderabad City Police Commissioner has appealed to the public not to buy Chinese maanja, which is available even online, as it could harm or kill many birds. Use of the product will attract huge fines and even imprisonment. According to traders at the kite market, people are shying away from buying foreign maanja. The traditional sport of kite flying is inexpensive and draws people of all castes, creeds and ages. The Patangula Panduga (Kite Festival) enjoys the patronage of the Government of Telangana. The three-day festival is held at the Parade Ground.
On a smaller, more personal scale, Srikanth, Thomas and Qureshi can all be seen together on the same rooftop, enjoying the fraternal thrill of cutting down competitors’ kites. It is an occasion for terrace parties, for families and friends to come together and make memories —stories you can tell your grandchildren while revelling in nostalgia for the past....