Not just child's play...
February 26, 2007 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Regularly marred by casualties, the two-day Basant festival in Pakistan leaves 11 dead and more than 100 injured. Kite flyers often use strings made of wire or coated with ground glass to try to cross and cut a rival's string or damage the other kite, often after betting on the outcome. Previously mentioned on mefi, the practice was banned in 2005 because the sport has become increasingly deadly. The ban on kite running was temporarily lifted for this year's festival. In an obvious flip-side, the ban proved to be a huge loss to the kite-twine manufacturers.
posted by beta male (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most deaths and injuries come from people running off of rooftops as opposed to the manja (cutting line).
posted by Gungho at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2007

Gungho, I agree. The article describes it thusly:
The deaths and injuries were caused by stray bullets, sharpened kite-strings, electrocution and people falling off rooftops yesterday at the conclusion of the two-day Basant festival, said Ruqia Bano, spokeswoman for emergency service in the city of Lahore.
posted by bhouston at 11:59 AM on February 26, 2007

Indian kite flying ≠ Canadian kite flying.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:13 PM on February 26, 2007

...ack. Pakistani.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:14 PM on February 26, 2007

The festival is also bad news for the birds.
posted by cubby at 12:37 PM on February 26, 2007

jimmythefish: Don't feel too bad about mistaking Pakistani culture for Indian -- there are more similarities than differences. (Which of course if why Indo-Pak conflicts are so intense.) Springtime in north India also involves kites with lethal twine and people falling off rooftops.
posted by phliar at 12:43 PM on February 26, 2007

I remember hearing about the kite ban a year or two ago. It was painted, at the time, as a ridiculous Muslim law-against-impropriety or something.

I guess the writeups were correct, if you consider 'impropriety' to be people dying from flying kites. Wow.

And what's with the bullets? If you're losing a midair duel, do you have cousin Abdul assassinate the enemy kite?
posted by Malor at 12:46 PM on February 26, 2007

philar, just a brain fart for a sec there.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2007

Number of deaths at the last Berkeley kite festival: 0.
I'm just sayin'.
posted by 2sheets at 1:08 PM on February 26, 2007

Sure 2sheets, but how many participate in Berkeley's kite festival: a few thousand. How many participate in Pakistani (Lahori) basant: a minimum of about 5 million.

The ban on Basant has two different motivations: those who genuinely want to minimize deaths and injuries [who, to my mind, should argue for a safer Basant, not an outright ban] and those who oppose it because it is a non-Muslim festival that marks the advent of spring, and has nothing to do with the Islamic calendar or any Muslim entity. It is a really fun festival where people traditionally where yellow, play drums, have kite flying competitions, flirt, drink, make merry and so forth. The reason it became politicized in Pakistan is because the country went through a period of Islamization in the 1980s after which everything 'un'Islamic has to be fought for ... or couched in terms that render it compatible with Islam, often to the point of absurdity. A good example is the contentious issue of interest (i.e., interest that you earn in a bank ...). Technically interest (usury) is illegal under Islamic law. What is the Pakistani government's response? Not to say, screw you, you unproductive moronic retrograde Islamists, the system of interest is integral to the banking system, but instead to no longer call it 'interest' but 'mark-up'.

I kid you not.
posted by Azaadistani at 3:46 PM on February 26, 2007

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