Last up date:2000/01/25
The Millennium Desert Kite Festival 2000
JODHPUR - JAIPUR 9th January to 14th January 2000

Single Line Kite Tangles & India's International Kite Spectacular: the Millennium Desert Kite Festival 2000 by Tal Streeter

This page was generated under the permission of Mr.Tal Streeter.

There's something old and new in the wind !

Have you glimpsed them out of the corner of your eye, on the kite festival fields, flying in the skies over parks and beaches ? Darting, spinning, bee-like - butterflies might be a better description - diamond shapes sparkling in the sunlight, changing their course, flitting here and there like playful butterflies. That all sounds nice and a pretty picture, too, but it's also an exciting, pulse-pounding experience !

These little kites dashing across the sky, they're calling them "Indian-style, single line sports kites" in the United States. In Hindi they're known as patang, which has come to be translated in English, in Europe and the rest of the world, as Indian-style "fighter kites."

"Kite fighting?" The Indians insist it's not really fighting but simply Indian "kite flying," and the game, the sport, the competition, the Indians refer to as "tangles." This puts Indian-style kite tangles the spirit of games of basketball and football in the U.S., soccer in Europe (tennis, marbles, jacks, chess, etc.): We don't refer to these Western sports as "fighting." Kites and these other games share elements of strategy trying to outwit and out fly opponents: men and women, boys and girls, honing skills, challenging one another in the sport of kite flying. Opinions vary throughout the world: presently in the kite community,the majority of single line Indian-style adherents favor the use of traditional Indian manjha glass cutting line. A newly emerging group, however, worries about the accidents attendant upon glass lines. This group plays "touch" rather than cutting games, flying without ground glass. Competitors maneuver their kites to touch and avoid being touched, or "cut" tissue paper tails with passes of un-coated flying line(this is also practiced, though rarely, in India). Coming on the scene throughout India and the rest of the world are newly engineered, faster Indian-style kites, and high performance reels.

Competitions are also evolving where kites are flown on very short linens (in comparison to the Indian tradition, kites flown at quite a distance). The world-wide, International Manjha Club members are headquartered in Europe are still committed to glass flying lines (as are some teams throughout the United States), but where will it all end up ? Only "up" is certain.

There is a good chance that many from among the worldwide competition fliers will be cutting their teeth on meeting each other in Jpdhpur. Jodhpur's International Desert Kite Festival and the local clubs participating in the competition heats have been particularly receptive to the notion of encouraging improved flight and equipment in Indian kite flying tangles.

Several Desert Kite Festivals back I spoke with Frank Coenraets who came with his team from Belgium. I asked Frank what he had learned in the Jodhpur tangle competition, flying against India's master kite fighters. "In my first direct observation of an Indian flyer," he said, "I was astounded at how fast he could pull in line, hand over hand. It could only be described as a whirlwind. This turned out to be my greatest weakness, pulling in too slowly. My teammates and I were all very hyper and quite shaken by our defeat in the heats with the Indian teams. In that first encounter I had been determined to win and was angry with myself when winning proved to be impossible. The second year we learned how to enjoy ourselves, ensuring that losing could not overshadow the fun of the match. Now, I think we are better into the sportsmanship of kite tangles, which brings such great pleasure regardless of winning or losing."

The Belgium team gained high marks for sportsmanship, but lost their match set with a Jodhpur team win score of 6-0. "The Belgium team will be back !" Frank declared.

This year, clubs from Europe, and from throughout the world will appear with their newest kites and reels, hoping to unseat the more traditional Indian fliers flying on skills developed over years of flying. Thus far, the traditional Indian fliers have held onto the crown, with the exception of 1998, when the Hong Kong team took the Championship. What is in store for the tangle kite fliers at the Millennium Cup challenge ? No one is prepared to hazard a guess.

Of course, the Jodhpur Kite Festival, will host not only Indian-style tangle competitions, but flyers and kite makers from around the world, flying the full range of kites, big, small, glorious, multi-colored, innovative shapes and forms, the kites we have come to expect in world-class International festivals.

And what better place for tangles and these kite creations than being hosted by one of the most glamorous, exotic, extravagantly grand states India - in the center of a centuries old tradition of kite flying.

Kite flyer participants and foreigners attending the festival are provided beautiful accommodations at one of the Jodhpur Maharajah Gaj Singh's estates located on the outskirts of Jodhpur, the Balsamand Palace (now, a Welcomgroup resort hotel). The Jodhpur palaces and grounds are right out of a fairy-tale picture book or splendid costume movie, with large monkeys, and peacocks roaming freely. The Indian teams and foreign guests are greeted by the Maharajah at a welcoming party on the terrace of a magnificent summer palace built into the waters of a large artificial lake. Mind-boggling, wide-eyed wonder would be quite inadequate to sum up the feelings of the kite visitor's first night in Jodhpur. And, the hospitality of the Maharajah and the festival organizers - grand palaces notwithstanding - well, you'll be made to feel right at home.

Let the best fliers with the best equipment take home the gold - and it will be an amount of gold formed into a pendant, along with a special trophy and parchment presented by His Royal Highness, Maharajah Gaj Sing at a victory awards celebration. Come. Take home the gold or a special prize from the trophy-laden table !

Kite flying in the daytime: late into the evening, kite talk, sumptuous accommodations, banquet tables set for kings and queens, splendid palaces, Rajasthan dancing and Musical entertainment. At the last banquet, one of Jodhpur's kite fliers raises candle-lit paper lanterns spaced at intervals on the kite flying line. The kite itself is invisible, swallowed up by the darkness of the night sky.

The last official day of the Desert Kite Festival, January 14, Makar Sankranti, everyone travels to Jaipur, the jewel of Rajasthan: Kites fly into the sky from Jaipur's rooftops, every which way you turn ! Uncountable millions. More colorful Kites dancing in the sky than the most ardent kite enthusiast could ever imagine in their fondest dreams. Millions, literally millions ! Darting, spinning, bee-like - butterflies might be a Better description - diamond shapes sparkling in the sunlight, changing their course, flitting here and there like playful butterflies. That all sounds nice and a pretty picture, too, but it's also an unbelievable, exciting. pulse-pounding experience !

Summed up in two words: "Kite Heaven !"

As the guide books quite rightfully observe: "It is unabashedly magnificent !" Words simply cannot do it justice. Come. Participate. See it all for yourself ! It is without question, a kite lover's opportunity of a lifetime.