The ancient art of kite flying has been very popular in Pakistan, especially in the Punjab Province where the Kites are usually constructed from Tissue Paper and spliced Bamboo sticks.

Kite flying is both an art and a highly competitive pass-time  in Pakistan. In around mid-Feburary, there is a kite flying festival known as basant. People fly paper kites with a powdered glass coated cotten string (called Dore), the aim is to go into a "paitcha" (where two kites' strings cross) then using a special flying technique, cut the string of the other kite.

At basant the sky is full of kites, the festival starts at night (people fly the kites from their illumiated flat topped roofs), it carries on through-out the night and finishes at the end of the following day. Kite flying is most popular in Lahore (Punjab) is also popular througout Pakistan.

There is some controversy surrounding the celebration of basant. Some object to its celebration in a Muslim country because they believe it's roots are in hindu tradition. In Some cities these vocal groups have managed to get basant celebrations banned, but Lahorites will not give up their favorite spring festival for anyone. It is impossible to get a hotel room in Lahore during that time as people come from all around the country and even from other countries.

I was fortunate to come upon professionals preparing the dore (powdered-glass covered string). In my childhood I have made the door myself, but my process was a lot simpler than what they do nowadays. The dore is so sharp that you have to wear bandages or tape on your fingers when you fly the kites so as not to cut yourself.

Powdered glass used in making the dore
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Other ingredients include colors and glue
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First a paste is made that strengthens the string
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Preparing the "masala"
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It almost looks like dough, which is then rubbed onto the string
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Rubbing the masala onto the string
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lhr_1063.jpg (46287 bytes) Wrapping up the prepared dore onto "charkhis"
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Kites are everywhere
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lhr_2027.jpg (137912 bytes) lhr_2028.jpg (141535 bytes) The night before basant people fly kites at night
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One guy holds the "charkhi" with the dore while another engages in a "paitcha"
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People party on the flat rooftops while fireworks are sent off all around
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lhr_2081.jpg (61573 bytes) With Shahid on "old" food street at 2:30 AM!!
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Houses lining the Food Street
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lhr_2082.jpg (149810 bytes) People flying kites from rooftops along food street
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A closer look at festivities going on on rooftops at food streetlhr_2088a.jpg (17449 bytes) Basant Day is finally here. On my brother's rooftop
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Razia dressed in "basant yellow", the color of musturd flowers
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Runa, Razia and Rafiq on Razia's brother's rooftop
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Kites at our disposal to fly
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  lhr_2096.jpg (67692 bytes)   Finally, the "expert" will show them how it's done. :)
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