Kite flying is an integral part of Indian festivities, especially during Makar Sankranti a festival celebrated in mid-January. This is not only a tradition in India, but also a famous sport and recreational activity in South America, Asia and many other parts of the world.
While we talk about kite flying, a strong manja plays the most important role in this activity. Manja is the thread which helps kite soar in the sky while enabling control with the flyer. Traditionally manja was made from pure cotton thread rolled with colours and powdered glass. This was done to strengthen the thread and improve the capability of the manja to cut down other kites in the competition. But in recent times, these cotton threads have been replaced by the synthetic non-bio-degradable imported threads, making the manja stronger and unbeatable, which defeats the entire purpose of the game. Not only are these threads crushing the spirit of the sport, but physically harming bystanders, people on road, birds and even the person who is flying the kite.
A recent survey in Ahmedabad during Makar Sankranti, the Uttarayan Utsav, indicated that more than 2000 birds were injured and almost 500 of them died. Every year people die getting fatal cuts by sharp leftover manja hanging from building on to the streets etc. One such incident happened with Neetu (name changed). She was riding her scooty on the day of Makar Sankranti when she got cut by loose manja hanging on the street. The upper eyelid of the left eye of this 20 year old girl, sustained a through and through cut. She was immediately taken to our Emergency Department, Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector 8 where she was got admitted under me and my team and without wasting any time we took her for surgery and her eyelid was repaired meticulously under magnification, to recreate a complete and fully functional eyelid. After a year, she is now able to normally blink and the scars will eventually go away.
But not all Neetus are blessed immediate expert attention wherein these incidents lead to long term damage and the synthetic manja has in fact taken many lives. We need to be conscious of the harmful effects of such recreational activities. Our enjoyment should never be the reason for someone’s pain.
Here are few tips to remember during kite flying festivals:
Use the simple ‘Cotton Manja/Thread’ for flying kites instead of the synthetic reinforced manja. This is the most important step to prevent any damage or loss of life
Children should participate only under parental/adult guidance
People travelling on road should be extra vigilant and people riding two wheelers must wear helmet to avoid such incidents
Persons flying kites should wear nitrile gloves to avoid cuts