July / August  2006




August/September Contents 

Sufis - wisdom against

 Sufi poet saints

 50 years of mountain

 Interviews with:
 Ajaz Anwar
Iqbal Hussain
Kamil Mumtaz

 Heritage cities:
 Taxila Dharmrajika
 Bhera - Part I
Bhera - Part II


Cotton - the fibre of

Cotton textiles of
 South Asia

 Handlooms & Dyes

 Hiran Minar


 Lahore Gymkhana

 B2B - Part I

B2B - Part II

Optical Networks I
Optical Networks II

Role of Internet in
 S Asian development

Technology and
 investment in US
 stock markets

Security & Trust in
 Internet banking

 Telecom & software
 - trends & future in
 South Asia

China & India - major
 players by 2025

Pakistan - IT Markets
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV









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BASANT - 'A sky without frontiers'

- the Spring Festival of Kites


Salman Minhas


First published in March 2002

Kites-Prof-Ajaz-Anwar-Basant-Colection.jpg (5881 bytes)

Painting "Basant" by Permission Professor Aijaz Anwar, Lahore
from the site :

From mid-January to mid-February the clear blue skies over Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat in India, and Lahore in Pakistan, come alive with the gaiety and colour of paper kites in all hues, shapes and sizes. Kite flying in the Punjab is associated with Vasant Panchami the onset of spring. It is also commonly known as Basant. The yellow of mustard flowers and the Amaltas trees is the first colour to be sighted after the severe winters of the north. Traditionally, on this day- 5th of the lunar month of Magh children and women wear yellow and men folk in Rajasthan wear yellow turbans. Spring heralds new beginnings and the colourful kites in the sky are a statement of this joyous awakening. Basant had its beginnings as a Hindu festival but as different religions came to India they participated in the joy of the occasion and Basant became a truly secular festival the kites in the sky know no boundaries. Many a musical raga and raagini have been inspired by Magh (Spring). Poets have penned romantic verses, and artists, both of the past and contemporary, have painted the Basant skies.

kites-ag the sky.jpg (26638 bytes)
Photo courtesy

In Punjab, kite flying is a rooftop sport. The rooftops of inner cities turn into virtual arenas of kite flying competitions on Basant. In Rajasthan and Gujarat kite flying gathers a frenzied momentum on January 13, also celebrated as Makar Sankrant the day the sun changes direction and starts to move towards the northern hemisphere. In Lahore it is a 24-hour spectacle it pioneered night kite flying using strong beams and white kites. Little wonder that Lahore is the official kite flying capital of Pakistan. It is where Basant is celebrated with unmatched passion and zeal. There is no official Basant day here there is an entire Basant season of kite flying accompanied my rooftop dinners, dances and fun. It is a sort of Octoberfest, a local Mardi Gras or the Rio Carnival minus the revealing dresses. The streets, parks and the roof tops especially are filled with cries and cheers of "Bo Kata" or Kite down, followed by drums rolls.

Kites-blue sky.jpg (14346 bytes)kites-jodhpur fest.jpg (62823 bytes)kites-jaipur fest.jpg (62695 bytes)
The colourful skies during the Desert Kite Festivals in Jodhpur and Jaipur
Reproduced with permission from  Mr. Masami Takakuwa 
[] Japan

In Jodhpur, the run-up to Makar Sankrant is celebrated as the International Kite Festival. Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur [ also the Chairman of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation] hosts it every year in the Umaid Bhavan palace lawns. About 75 fliers from 7 countries participate - with teams from Belgium, France, Hongkong, U.K., Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan and about 7 teams from Jodhpur and Delhi, Pune, Jaipur. Only in 1998 did the team from Hong Kong defeat the Jodhpur " Fateh Sagar Kite Club" [ score 4-2] In all the other years Indian teams have held the crown. The theme of the kite festival is "One-Sky-One World". This is very relevant in this age of confrontation . A sky without borders.

There are awards for the most creative kite, [Indian & foreign], best flying display, technological innovation, beauty & delicacy of design. 


Pictures given here of the Desert Kite Festival are reproduced with permission from the sites of Mr. Masami Takakuwa of [] Japan & Ms.Gina Hsiung of California State University [] . Other pictures are from Mr.Jamie-Al-Nasir, U.K. web site [ ]

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