Hyderabad: The festival of kites, which is round the corner, ranks high in popularity with people from all walks of life and every age-group participating enthusiastically in the ‘Patangula panduga’ (kite festival).
A significant aspect of the festival is that it has been providing livelihood to many families, particularly those residing in the vicinity of Gulzar Houz, a stones-throw away from Charminar. It is the biggest market for kites and manjas in the twin cities and attracts buyers from every nook and corner.
“Gulzar Houz patang market is around 100 years old. Approximately, 150 shops are completely into selling kites and manjas. Although, it is seasonal revenue earner to most, the fact is that the families spend the year into making them ready for the festival” said a veteran kite-maker.
“Patang is the most inexpensive hobby. Kite flying has some health benefits. It keeps your body and mind fit and active and increases your eyesight. Alas, over the years, the patronage is gradually declining. Ulike in the good old days, where it would be family get-togethers, today’s children are addicted to mobile phone, electronic gadgets and video games,” said Pasupulete Babu Rao, a veteran kite-flyer.
The kites give a resplendent look and add beauty to the environs. The prices are even now economical-plastic kites cost up to Rs 5 while traditional paper ones are available for Rs 3 to Rs 20; manja charak varies between Rs 150 and Rs 1, 200. Patangs have typical names-Kadi Kamp, Gol Kamp, Zebiya, Langoat, Ek Kalam, Do Kalam and special Dulhan Patang. The Dabirpura and Mata ka Kidiki manjas are so famous that there are regular orders from kite enthusiasts from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. According to Moin Khan of Purani Haveli, who is a kite merchant, “my family is into making kites every from morning to evening. The wholesalers pick up the stock from us. For the past two years, I am putting up a stall on this pavement after taking loans from moneylenders. I have spent `2 lakh to establish the stall. If demand reduces, I will end up a wreck.” Bajaj Patang Ghar, a fifty-year-old shop in the middle of Gulzar Houz, has seen the glory days when kites were sold like hot cakes. Today, they pray for a regular flow of customers.
It’s promoter Venugopal Bajaj explained “earlier kite flying would last for four months. Unfortunately, because varying factors the enthusiasm is on the wane. To add to our woes, the Telangana Government has reduced Sankranti holidays in order to extend Bathukamma holidays. This is a big blow for the market.”
He added “thousands of families are totally into kite and manja making trade. Alas, because of the slackening demand, many craftsmen are moving away in search of greener pastures.” Sixty-year-old Prakesh Singh said “Even my grandfather and father were in this trade. Immediately, after breakfast, our whole family would get involved in making kits of various sizes and hues.”
Women would make the smaller kites while men took up making big kites. In those days, we would make one lakh kites in a year. Today, we cannot survive only on that earning. But, it is getting passed on to successive generations, and we know of no other source of livelihood. We have no other go.”
There are other threats to the monopolistic hold of Gulzar Houz market. The most potent one comes in the form of Chinese manja. Cotton manja, which we sell, is environmental-friendly. Although, Chinese manja is banned, it is being sold on Amazon, under the pretext that it is for industrial use.
Ironically when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, kite flying was encouraged by the government. It has emerged as the biggest market for kites. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) should emulate the precedent and promote kite flying with gusto. This was the opinion of a majority of kite merchants, who hoped that the police would give permission to keep the shops at Gulzar Houz open till late in the night at least for four days, as they do for Ramzan and Diwali....