Weather and beaches has encouraged some Mangaloreans into flying kites as a hobby. Especially at kite festivals, people throng Panambur Beach to see and fly kites. The city has at least 15 kite enthusiasts who have formed a group called “Team Mangalore”. The members build and fly kites at national and international meets and have a website (www.indiankites.com).
While some of the team’s members flew kites on the city’s beaches, it was in 1994 that Sarvesh Rao, trekker and kite flying enthusiast thought of founding “Team Mangalore”. During a trek to Kodachadri, Giridhar Kamath, another team member, told him to take up kite flying seriously. It was a good hobby, an activity about which children of the region knew little about, and that it could help put Mangalore on the international map.
Dinesh Holla, artist, who does the artwork for “Team Mangalore”, told The Hindu that the team began as a small group in 1996. The group first participated in a kite flying meet in Gujarat. Then followed meets in Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Silvassa.
The first international event was after they met and were encouraged to participate in France’s kite festival by Dominique Martin and Marc Hergoz from France, who were deeply impressed with the group’s kite design inspired by Kathakali. The group went on to participate in the U.K., Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Italy, and Qatar. While the team began with making small kites of about six feet, it built 36-foot kite and flew it successfully in 1998 in Panambur. The kite featured in the Limca Book of Records in 2005 as the biggest kite.
According to Mr. Holla, what makes the group stand apart at international meets is that it uses traditional Indian motifs inspired by Bhoothada Kola and Bharatanatya. They are done as a collage, unlike other kites made of a single piece. “They never get subjects like us,” he said. A team from Indonesia copied the group’s Kathakali kite design, he said.
Giridhar Kamath believes flying kites helps people get many friends as they meet others in different countries. Kite flying is the best outdoor activity. “Besides,” he said, “whenever you see a kite, people instantly appreciate it because a kite, in many ways, represents life. If your roots are strong, you can reach any height,” he said.
Mr. Rao said that despite the invitations (ten in a year) to the group to participate in kite flying events, the members do not attend unless their visit is sponsored. “It is a hobby group and there is no remuneration from the activity and we spend ourselves for the hobby,” he said. Despite the many programmes organised for children in Mangalore, young people stop at buying kites and flying them in Panambur beach. There is so much of science and aerodynamics that one can learn from building and flying kites. But children hardly participate in outdoor activities, and schools and colleges do not give them enough information about activities such as flying kites.
People stay indoors with computers and television sets, other than cricket nothing draws them outdoors. Kite flying can be an excellent diversion, especially for children who can learn life’s lessons from it as they observe the kite trying to catch the wind, fly upward, fall and rise and soar into the sky. It allows the child to gaze at the sky and enjoy the thrill of seeing a kite he or she made soaring into the sky, he said.
Kite flying is considered the best outdoor activity, especially for children