March 10, 2006

1,000 kite fliers arrested in Pakistan.

But it's not because of fundamentalist opposition to kite-flying. It's about dangerous string.
Revellers taking part in the Basant festival, which marks the start of the spring in Punjab, spend millions of rupees on day-and-night kite battles and the skies are filled with the brightly coloured toys.

Many people use strings coated with a paste containing glass powder or with iron wool to sever the strings of rival kites. But the cords have also claimed the lives of 10 people, most of them children, police and newspapers said.

Most are killed when the strings fall across roads at head height and slit the throats of people on motorbikes.
Kite battles. Rival kites. Dangerous string.


goesh said...


They were flying kites
I cursed the wind
I guess they thought I'd sinned
for slandering such heights
sought by their paper kites
when they were on the other end

AllenS said...

Dueling kites.

Word verification: bblgrf

Meaning: Pakistani for "Damn it! You just cut my string."

Kyle said...

Killing people with kite string? That's something a bond villain would do in the 70's.

bill said...

Fighter kites rule! Pretty cheap too, compared to all the 4-line stunt kites. Takes more skill skill to fly, as well.

hoosthere said...

When I read The Kite Runner (HIGHLY recommended, BTW, with a view of the Taliban in Afghanistan), I learned that "kite-dueling" seems to be a long-running tradition among people in the region, and seemed very celebrated within the community.

I wonder if they are facing backlash? Seems like they would.

ChrisO said...

From what I remember reading some time ago, kite dueling, with the glass on the string and all, has been going on in China for centuries. I wouldn't be surprised if it was popular throughout Asia.

Marghlar said...

You've got to hand it to people in the Muslim world for finding really dangerous ways to celebrate. This reminds me of the long-standing problem in Iraq -- people celebrate by firing guns in the air. Unfortunately, if a lot of people in an urban area shoot straight up, gravity does eventually cause these bullets to come back down at nearly equal speed. So people just get shot randomly out of the sky from time to time.

I am just impressed that people keep flying the battle kites after people keep dying from it. That's pretty messed up.

But yes, battle kites is a pleasing image...I imagine kites with all sort of sharp protuberances, gleaming in the sun, with war paint on them.

Two kites enter, one kites leaves! Two kites enter, one kite leaves!

Palladian said...

"You've got to hand it to people in the Muslim world for finding really dangerous ways to celebrate."

I don't think it's just the Muslim world. How many people in the US blow their hands and faces off with fireworks every year?


Jogen Shukla said...

We do it in India as well. It's a helluva a lot of fun. The string itself isn't very dangerous, unless it's still attached to the kite. You could cut open a finger (as with a kitchen knife chopping veggies) on them but the deaths are from running into the strings when they are still attached to the kites.

There is another danger to it though. The dueling is best done from roofs and after cutting a rival kite it's imperative to retrieve it. My uncle, as a child, fell off a roof three stories. He's got a nice dent in the side of his head from it. :)

Really, you gotta do it. It's too much fun.

bearbee said...

Killer Kite Stalks Shreveport Pilots

somross said...

A relative of mine was killed in NJ many years ago when someone strung up piano wire across a field in an attempt to stop people from riding motorbikes in the area. But although I've read accounts of kite flying in India (people jumping from roof to roof) I never heard about dangerous kite string!

lindsey said...

Marghlar, I've been told by a friend in LA that they have problems with Mexicans popping off guns to celebrate on New Years as well. I think it's just a Third World thing.

Palladian said...

Sounds like someone needs to introduce the third world to the relative safety of fireworks!

Wait... Aren't a lot of extra-legal fireworks from Mexico (and/or China)?

OhioAnne said...

Kite wars was also the sport in Santiago, Chile when I lived there. As I recall, September was the month for kite flying.

It was incredibly entertaining to watch - something like a National Geographic special on lions. The kite flyers would be miles apart, but could be seen stalking one another in the air. People would stop whatever they were doing to watch and see who won by cutting the others string first.

Cut strings coming down and killing people sounds a little odd, but I could see the danger. It was not uncommon to see the string being wrapped between two trees or poles in a yard so the glue with glass could be applied and allowed to dry.

I often wondered if anyone ran into them then.