Last up date:1999/07/13
Cutting Is The Greatest Fun
Cutting Is The Greatest Fun by Nirmal M.Tuladhar
It is on Naga Panchami, a Nepalese religious day named after the serpent god of the Hindus, that the kiteflying season officially begeins. Ardent fliers, including children, bring out their spools and kites. Kiteflying becomes serious during Dasain, the fall harvest festival. All castes and creeds, both Buddhists and Hindus, joyously celebrate liberation from evil's miseries. The kite season ends on Tihar, the "Festival of Light."
Kites have flown in Nepal from its earliest history. This tradition incorporates several beliefs; kites remind the gods to send no more rain; kites bring prosperity to the family; and kites connect with heaven, by guiding recently-released souls there or contacting and honoring ancestors.
The Nepali consider the Indian fighter to be their own creation. This is the wellknown and ancient design of two equal sticks crossed and tied together, flown without a tail and bowed across the back for a self-balancing dihedral. The Nepal model sets the spar one-seventh of the way aft of the spine's nose. The kite is flown on a two-leg bridle.
People from neighboring mountains, hilltops and villages compete. They may fly their kites up the mountains from a neaby village below. A challenger fluttering and diving above your rooftop could be flown by a person one kilometer below you. Gaining altitude may be necessary for attack. But in cities such as Kathmandu, where kites are flown from rooftops and roof porches, height is less important than maneuverability.
The Nepalese spool is larger than those of other Southeast Asian countries. You reel in your line by rocking the spool clockwise between your thums and index fingers. The reel can carry up 2,000 meters (over a mile) of line for high flying and is maneuvered by reeling in and out from the spool rather than by hand-manipulating the line. Steering the kite comes with practice.
The greatest fun comes from cutting another kite's string. With its coating of adhesive paste and ground glass, the string is as sharp and abrasive as sandpaper on your opponent's line.
The technique is to touch your rival's string and immediately reel out line at high speed. The Nepalese style of kiteflying is aggressive, and though the kites look simple, they are atrategically designed for bringing down other kites.
During Dasain Kathmandu's rooftops are covered with kiteflyiers who jump and shout "Chet!" when they cut another's kiteline. Big speakers on the roofs blare the latest Nepalese pop songs. Fliers dance on the eoofs while their friends are busy bringing other's kites down. While chet is the word universally used outside Kathmandu Valley, variants such as vachet or hakkad (believed to be derived from "high cut") can be heard in the eastern mountains.
No organized kite contests are held in Nepal except for a local international festival held by Japanese Embassy. The Nepali have started making kites with diffierent designs representing their architecture and culture. However, these kites are not what a true believer would call "Nepalese kites." They don't deliver the thrill of the cut.