HYDERABAD: Mohammed Mansoor Khan, popularly known as the ‘manja maker from Hyderabad’, became just memories. The 90-year-old breathed his last on Sunday, surrounded by his family members at his residence Manju Maya Ka Tabela, Mata Ka Khidki, at Dabeerpura, in the Old City of Hyderabad.
He is survived by his seven sons, and one daughter.
“I was absolutely fond of him and used the manja made by Mansoor Khan. I have been seeing him since my childhood making manja. His passing is a matter of grief for me, and many others,” said Mohammed Hafeez, a businessman who lives in the same area where Mansoor Khan lived.
“Just last week he was discussing how we should start making manja early this year. With many schools and colleges still closed, he felt that youngsters would take to kite flying early this year and not wait till January when the festival comes around,” Mohammed Jawed Khan, one of the three of Mansoor Khan’s sons who worked with him in manja making said on Monday.
For many of his fans, Mansoor Khan was nothing less than the curator of manja, and the tradition of fighting kites - made from cotton string with a paste made from coating of gum, crushed glass, and Kalamanda (aloe vera). The advent of the now banned ‘Chinese manja’ – made from synthetic string - did little to diminish the demand for Mansoor Khan’s ‘Hyderabadi manja’. Almost every shop that sells kites, would stock this fighting kite string and sellers would come from all corners of the state to buy it in bulk for resale in their localities.
Mohammed Safiullah, Managing Trustee of Deccan Heritage Trust who enjoys flying kites, said, “I used to purchase manja from Mansoor Khan Sahab, who was famous for Hyderabadi manja. We had to wait for hours for our turn, as one person used to purchase several kinds of manja. I preferred the Gandhak Manja made by him. With his demise, we lost a person who served for so many years in every community, regardless whether they were adults or children, making kite flying an exciting sport.”
“He made the Manja for 73 years. My father started when he was 17, and he never stopped,” Jawed Khan said.
Mohammdi Begum, his daughter-in-law, said, “He was a loving and kind man, always friendly with everyone, fond of children. He used to encourage kids to fly kites.”
Venu Gopal Bajaj, who has been in the kite business for the past 50 years at Gulzar Houz, said, “Mansoor Khan’s Manja is considered the finest thread for kite fights. A genuine man. So many people would ask for the Hyderabadi manja.”
“I am 55-years-old, and I have been working with my father since the time I was 12. He was always a hard worker. It was not just the popularity of manja, but his goodness towards those around him that saw a large number of people attend his funeral yesterday at the Bada Kabristan in Naga Bowli, Yakutpura,” Jawed Khan said.