A recent email from a close kite flyer friend of mine made me realize how small the world has become with modern travel and communication systems.
It is possible to use our computers to learn about events all over the world in real time. Television's video magic makes us feel as though we are at events as they happen. Streaming video and sites like YouTube allow us to experience what is going on no matter where it is happening. The ease of travel can take you from your home to the other side of the world in less than a day.
My friend is travelling to the famous kite festival in Pasir Gudang (Johor), Malaysia in a few days. Pasir Gudang is located on the mainland across from the island of Singapore.
Held at the end of the second week in February each year, the Pasir Gudang kite festival is known around the world as an intersection point for kiters from around the world. At this festival, kite fliers from Europe, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada will mingle with kiters flying traditional Malaysian "wau" kites. It is indeed a blend of all the best the world has to offer in a variety of kites defined by visitors from different global locales.
The Pasir Gudang Kite Museum is located here, on top of Kite Hill. It is the first kite museum in Malaysia and has a unique working windmill that generates enough electricity to supply the daily needs of the museum. What could be more appropriate for a kite museum than to use the wind to provide green energy.
Nor is this the only kite festival to take place in Malaysia. Malacca, the third smallest Malaysian state, located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca also recently hosted a major international kite festival. The Star Online in Malacca reported that "about 200 kite enthusiasts from all over the country gathered at the Dataran Pahlawan field in Bandar Hilir, Malacca, to take part in the Third Malaysia-China 2009 Kite Flying Festival recently". The festival was also attended by European flyers from as far away as Finland.
This is not the only location where kiting is flourishing in the large global community.
Recent news reports from around the world cited major kiting activity in every corner of the world.
India and Pakistan: recent reports of the major kite flying activity that is associated with the celebration of Utterayan and Makhar Sankranti (India) and Basant (Pakistan) have been streaming steadily from news agencies in the Asian sub-continent.
"May it be Republic Day or Independence Day or Makar Sakranti or Janamashtami, more and more people in north India are taking to kite flying on such days. In a way, kite flying is becoming a festival by itself. The Indian festival of Makar Sakranti is devoted to kite flying and fighting in some states. This year the festival was celebrated on January 14, with millions of people flying kites all over northern India.
The states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and some part of West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and the cities of Ahemdabad, Baroda, Jaipur, Dhanbad and Hyderabad are particularly notable for their kite fighting festivals."
- Pakistan: A kite fighting ban imposed by the Pakistan Supreme Court has been effect for several years now due to the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred due to kite flying. In Pakistan, as in India, kite fighting is the ultimate kite flying challenge. Kiters duel it out in the skies cutting one another's kited from the skies using glass and chemically coated kite line to assist in severing the kite of an opponent and thus win the battle. The details surrounding this ban and some of the background can be found here on the Best-Breezes site by using the Search function to see previous articles. However, this year there were calls to lift the ban and legitimize the kite flying that continues in spite of the ruling against the use of sharp kite line. The Daily Times of Lahore reported:
"According to a poll conducted by the channel, approximately 75 percent of the city’s residents favoured kite flying in celebration of the spring festival. Residents say the ban on kite flying not only deprived the people of celebrating and enjoying a festive occasion but also adversely affected the developing industry of manufacturing kite-related products, the channel reported. Overall, the Punjab government’s initiative to consider lifting the ban was welcomed by the public, it added."
Australian and New Zealand kite festivals are in full swing now as the Southern Hemisphere is enjoying summer. These two locales have produced some of the most innovative modern kites to grace the skies at kite festivals in the past decade. Recently, the Tip-Top Kite Day was held in ChristChurch, NZ and featured international kiters in attendance from as far away as The Netherlands. So it is clear that kiting is flourishing in this region as well.
Europe has a number of outstanding festivals: Dieppe France, Bristol in Great Britain, Schveningen in The Netherlands and Fano in Denmark are well known gathering spots for international kite fliers.
North America has a large number of festivals of note: the Niagara International Kite Festival in Niagara Falls, NY; Wildwood in New Jersey; the Smithsonian Kite Festival in Washington, D.C.; Sunfest in Ocean City, Maryland; the Washington State Kite Festival and Dieppe, New Brunswick are among the many events in this continent that attract noted fliers from around the world.
Each of these events has a major impact on the dissemination of current kite knowledge and innovation. In addition, the kites in the sky bring delight to local spectators and tourists who increasingly add these events to their itineraries.
The list could go on and on. However, just using these examples it is safe to conclude that kite flying as a world wide activity is alive and well. The ability to use modern communication keeps us in touch with these events as they happen. Modern transportation allows us to place ourselves on these noted kite fields with the best kiters in the world. It is a small world and somewhere a kite is flying in the sky at all times.