Basant means spring in Sanskrit, a reference to the fields of blooming yellow flowers of mustard that grace the area as spring approaches. It is celebrated predominantly in the Eastern city of Lahore, Punjab as a mega festival. People celebrate it like a ritual with thousands of kites elevated into the sky and boisterous rooftop parties at night. ‘Basant’ had become one of the most attractive events in the provincial metropolis which is a tourist attraction too in the past. This auspicious occasion has been turned into mourning when people risks innocent lives by using chemical thread and metallic twine to add their joys, making it a fatal exercise.
However the festival lovers are annoyed by the Provincial Government of Punjab’s decision to impose complete ban on the manufacturing and selling of kites, strings and even kites-flying. More than a million of families are associated directly or indirectly with kite manufacturing business. They will also face trouble in quest of alternative means of earning bread and butter.
The Lahore High Court dismisses a petition seeking permission to celebrate Basant by quoting that the Courts cannot give anyone ‘license to kill’ in the name of Basant festival and kite-flying ordinance was promulgated for the safety of lives and property of people. During the period of 2006-09 at least 18 people were killed and 24 others injured due to kite flying. Wapda faced a loss of Rs5 billion, while damage to its grid stations was Rs57 million.
Police arrested the Kite Flying Association president and secretary for publicly announcing that Basant would be celebrated in Lahore on March 6 and 7 despite of CM Punjab’s strict warnings of indiscriminate action against the violators of kite flying ban. On the other hand during the crackdown, 18,314 kites and 2,014 string-rolls were seized from kite sellers and kite flyers from across the city of Lahore. Governor Punjab Salman Taseer welcomes the decision of Kite flying association to celebrate Basant and said that he would be a part of the celebrations.
Now it is a matter of to be or not to be for the public. Government ban is enough to stop incidents of throat slitting from kite strings? The major responsibility lies on people themselves. Those who are keen to celebrate must understand that nothing is more precious than human life not even a cultural activity. It is their moral and social responsibility to make sure that they are not being detrimental to others property and lives.
Media can play a positive role in educating people & spreading the message of safety and security for all during the festivity if celebrated. People should warmly welcome the government’s decision if such activities were shifted to suburb areas of the city as Kite flying could be allowed in open places and grounds.
Image: Daily Times