Kite flying is a 'royal' pastime in Junagadh

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Junagadh, Gujarat, Oct 4 (UNI) While kite-flying is usually associated with ''Sankranti'' which falls in the month of January, for people here, the kite-flying season commences during the solemn ''shradh'' period that falls in Bhadrapad (September-October).

However, this kite flying has no ritualistic significance but has rather to do with opportunistic weather conditions -- a strong breeze ideal for indulging in this pastime.

During this period, there is plenty of breeze flowing from atop the Girnar hills down to the plains. Such ideal conditions had also induced the Junagadh royalty to take a fancy to kite flying and the tradition has continued, according to a wholesale dealer in kites here.

Popat, the wholesaler, has two other rivals in the city but all three make brisk sales, earning at least Rs 5000 during the month stretching beyond ''Shraddh''.

Sir Mohabat Khan Rasul Khan, who belonged to Babi Pathan tribe, was the last ruler of Junagadh. He was a patron of kite-flying and encouraged others to do so. When India was approaching her ''tryst with destiny'', Sir Mohabat Khan Rasul Khan opted to take his tiny state into Pakistan. However, the predominantly Hindu population and a determined Sardar Patel forced the Nawab to leave the country. The Nawab, who migrated to Karachi, died in 1959.

Mohabat Khan used to fly kites on the terrace of his palace and he had thrown a challenge that whosoever cut his kite would get a suitable ''inam'' or reward. But, no one dared to take up the challenge for fear of offending the Nawab of Junagadh.

But, the Nawab did lose his kite once. Babubhai Gariyal, who has crossed 90, recounts the incident. A mischievous character had tied a small stone to his thread because of which the Nawab's thread was immobilised. The Nawab lost the battle in the sky.

The surprised Nawab called his soldiers and asked them to trace the culprit. The genial Nawab made the culprit dance like a monkey and let him go but not before handing him some money as ''inam'' that had been promised.

Junagadh is a maritime state situated in the south west of Kathiawad comprising 3,337 sq. miles with a population of about four lakh. It was an important trade centre as seen from the Ashoka edicts dating from 250 BC situated near the foothills of Girnar.


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