There was a time when kites were flown all around the year in Kathmandu, so the story goes. Whenever people of the valley had time to spare, they would go to the fields with their lattai and fly kites. They would not think much about the inconvenience the birds of the valley were facing.
Every day, a number of birds got entangled in the manjha and others suffered cuts. This ruffled their feathers (literally).
A delegation of birds met the king and demanded that the people be stopped from flying kites. The king and the birds then reached a deal, which came to be known as the Treaty of Kathmandu.
The treaty says kites cannot be flown during the winter, the spring, and the summer. It can only be flown when the monsoon ends and the afternoon westerly winds start to blow–exactly when Dashain sets in.
So why do we need to continue this tradition?
1. Rain, rain, go away!
Kites send a message to Indra, the god of rain, to stop the rain as the rice fields do not need more water. Legend has it that Dashain was originally celebrated during the Nepali month of Chaitra in spring. But, because farmers were busy in the fields during that month, it was decided that the festival would be celebrated after the rainy season when the farmers would be free.
2. Inviting prosperity
Kite flying brings prosperity to the family. Legends say that flying kites brings good fortune to the family. When you fly kites, you are welcoming the forces of good and piety, and this of course brings you good luck.
3. An honour to ancestors
When you fly kites, you are contacting and honouring your ancestors. When you fly kites, your ancestors in heaven see the colourful objects and feel that you are remembering them. What other sport would do that!
4. The celestial connection
Kites guide recently released souls to heaven. It is believed that the souls of people and animals that die on earth find a way towards heaven when you fly kites. The kites join the sky with the earth, something that no other object does.
5. Nothing else to do
There’s not much to do during Dashain. Well, all said and done Dashain is a holiday for everyone. This includes the staffers at your favourite restaurant and your favourite shopping malls. So, flying kites is the best thing you can do during Dashain!
From the archive