Petkati, Chandial, Mombaati were once common names in Bengal. But with time they have lost their grandeur. These are the varieties of kites which were once a favourite pastime for many.
“Petkati, Chandial, Mombaati, Bokka,/Aakashey ghurir jhaank, maatitey abagya,” these famous lines by Kabir Suman does not hold much water for the younger generation. Flying kites was once the most recreational activity.
Sadly, in today’s world, one can only find the older generation engaged in this cultural sport.
This traditional pastime stands little chance against today’s labyrinth of digital gadgetry and modern sporting activities. The ready-made kites which are easily available in the market, fail to attract the young generation.
A couple of years back, with beginning of Viswakarma Puja, the colourful sky of Kolkata denoted the beginning of the festive season.
The tradition has, however, seen a constant decline ‘Abhiba Kite Shop’ one of the oldest kite shop located at central Kolkata used to bloom throughout the year with its budding customers, but now it is almost at the verge of being closed.
Sanjukta Khatoon, who is the co-owner of this shop said, “Previously it was very difficult for us to meet the increasing demand of our customers, but now I am forced to sell groceries along with kites to make both ends meet.”
She further added that earlier children used to get fascinated with the colorful kites and colorful ‘manjas’(threads) but nowadays, with the easy access to television and computers. Sulaiman, a kite maker said that he used to work throughout the year to meet the customer’s demand but now his business has been badly hit. “Kolkata is known for its diversity.
But these days neither in Makar Sankranti nor during Viswakarma Puja we could see the sky overcast with colourful kites.
Another reason is the growing inflation. Since this is our source of income and keeping in mind the growing rates of every item in the market, we are compelled to increase the marginal cost of kites and the threads,” added Sulaiman.