GURUGRAM: August sky on Wednesday morning was specked with soaring tricolour , as hundreds of citizens enjoyed samosas and ‘azadi’ laddoos at the Sector 29 Huda grounds near Iffco Chowk.
A revered pastime and a dying tradition was revived in the city on the 72nd , by members of Gurugram Nagrik , who hosted ‘Udaan’, a kite-flying festival with a difference. Glossy kites in all shapes, sizes and prices sold like hot cakes, while buyers received quick instructions on how to manoeuvre the tricky cotton ‘manjha’.

Evoking the spirit of freedom, each kite had a message that spoke of India’s secular ethos, and stressed on the importance of safeguarding the country’s Constitution and fighting the rising tide of hate and intolerance.

On the kites were inscribed handwritten notes with messages like, ‘nafrat chhodo’. “Kites are synonymous with freedom and Independence Day, (and) the flying festival is a citizen’s collective to speak out (against) the communal discord that is being spread in the name of nationalism,” said advertising professional and writer Saumya Baijal. It is probably no coincidence that these symbols of freedom were banned by a British-era law, when protestors against the in 1928 used kites to voice their anger against the visiting delegation (those kites carried the words, ‘Simon Go Back’).

The venue was thronged by children from NGOs like Neev and Agrasar, who celebrated alongside families in holiday mood. Asked if the practice of flying kites has lost its charm, Baijal replied, “The tradition has not died yet but as a society, we’re forgetting the culture of doing things together. “Also, we are living in a time when nationalism has been misappropriated by the ruling party. We wanted to foil the hatred and bring forth the truth of our constitutional freedom,” she added.

IT professional Nazeeb Iqbal, one of the organisers, was teaching his kids the tricks to flying kites. “The objective was to bring different communities together for non-religious reasons — we are celebrating being Indians, keeping the feelings of hatred and discrimination at bay,” he told TOI.

Meanwhile, Deepak Sharma, an electronics engineer, had his hands full. Sharma was selling kites and, side by side, also giving a lesson or two to novices. “We have sold some 200 kites since morning,” he said, adding hopefully, “We wish to continue this tradition every Independence Day.”

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