• In Pakistan, the coming of spring is often marked by an army of kites that take over the clear blue skies. Traditionally referred to as Basant, this cultural festival is celebrated in the walled city of Lahore, where colorful kites take flight in the skies and kite flying gathers a frenzied momentum. Families, dressed in bright colors, gather on the rooftops to witness the kites dive and rise in a series of swoops and swirls.
  • Basant is a spring festival celebrated joyously in Pakistan, and in particular in the city of Lahore. Although originally a Hindu fete (“Basant” means “yellow” in Hindi, a reference to ripening mustard flowers), it has long since lost any religious connotation and become simply a kiteflying free-for-all, with lots of partying and general rejoicing. Muslims join right in, with the exception of fundamentalists, who call Basant a blasphemy.
  • After 42 years abroad and supported by a Drachen Foundation grant, Iqbal Husain returned to his native Pakistan to attend the Basant festival in Lahore. In a largely Muslim country, Basant is seen as a joint Hindu-Muslim festival. His remit was to study and document indigenous kiteflying during the celebration honoring spring.. Husain was one of several international fliers invited to attend and he was asked to bring 50 kites for flying and for exhibition. Between invitation and departure, however, grave problems developed.
  • Last February’s annual kiteflying festival in Lahore drew thousands of fliers and spectators and provoked the usual frenzy. Calls for caution were ignored by many. Three people were electrocuted when their wire cutting lines------banned, but used anyway-----touched power lines, two fell to their deaths from rooftops in pursuit of cut kites, two died after being hit by cars while chasing falling trophies, and a girl had her throat fatally slit by a line coated with pulverized glass. Despite a ban on firing guns, a number of people were injured by stray bullets.
  • Big kite festivals draw a wide range of fliers, from professionals to skilled amateur enthusiasts----hobbyists, craftsmen, aerodynamicists, artists, poets, teachers, outdoors people. Following are biographical sketches of six of the kiters, selected rather randomly although all proved to be interesting subjects, who attended last spring’s international festival at Cervia, Italy. Iqbal Husain: