Ahmedabad, July 13 : For millions of people in India flying kites is a passion not many people can resist, especially around Independence Day (August 15). But, in Gujarat, the craze for kites has proved to be major blessing for several Hindu and Muslim families.
Local kite makers and traders have been cherishing a good time since the State government started organizing an international kite festival on Independence Day in Ahmedabad, the State capital.
The annual event dedicated to kites has strengthened the kite market that exists as a cottage industry here.
This international festival draws participants from abroad and, in turn, proves beneficial to tens of thousands of workers and traders engaged in kite making and selling particularly in Ahmedabad, the State capital.
Members of Muslim community are generally believed to be expert kite-makers while Hindus are dominatingly involved in trading of kites.
Besides Gujarat, the kites prepared here are also supplied to Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and many other places in India.
Jamalpur area in Ahmedabad is the major hub of kite makers in Gujarat where there are hundreds of small and medium scale kite-making units employing thousands of workers.
Muslims, whose artistry in making kites is considered matchless, dominate the century-old market in Jamalpur area.
"This is our family business and was started by our forefathers. About 10 to 15 years ago the business was a little dull. It was restricted to Ahmedabad only and then gradually our products found new markets at other places in the State. And today, the business now has reached all India level with our supplies reaching the length and breadth of the country. The main manufacturing and trading is done from Ahmedabad alone," said Munawarbhai Khan, owner of a kite-making unit in Jamalpur in Ahmedabad.
Besides the Independence Day, during Republic Day, Dussera, Gokulashtami and a few other festivals, people enjoy kite flying with friends and families.
With the increasing craze of kite flying amongst people in the country on different occasions, the kite-makers have found a reason to smile through out the year.
A decade ago the kite industry used to pick up in Gujarat only around Uttarayana, the Hindu festival that falls in January when the sun crosses the Tropic of Cancer. The occasion is celebrated by the old and young alike who enjoy the occasion by kite flying.
"Kite industry is booming. Adding to that the Chief Minister of Gujarat has initiated a festival and the interest among the people has also increased attracting domestic and international tourists. The techniques of flying kites here is unique and they like them. People participate in this festival with great joy," said Mohammad Illias, one kite- maker in Ahmedabad.
According to some market experts, the turnover in the cottage industry of kite making is about rupees 150 million alone in Ahmedabad. If one includes the market of thread used to fly kites and reel making, the total amount may be around Rs. 400 million.
"Kite manufacturing in Gujarat is very big. The tissue thin paper kites are made for the Gujarat market whereas plastic (synthetic) kites are prepared for Delhi, Punjab and other places. Our products also go to MP and Hyderabad. Sometimes it even goes to Rajasthan as well. There are at least 100 units in which 2,000 people along with their family members are engaged in this business. In some of the households engaged in kite making, women members of the family are also earning," said Abdul Wahid Khan, a kite trader.
In 2007, Chief Minister Narendra Modi motivated the growth of this cottage industry by facilitating easy availability of bamboo required for kite-making. He also stressed upon the need for kite branding and packaging system.
It is widely believed that with the help of Government at the State and Centre, the kite making industry can create its room in the global market. By Ami Sharma