The 110-foot-long inflatable kite has travelled a long distance from Weifang City at Central Shandong Province in the People’s Republic of China to the Kozhikode beach.
The kite, sporting the face of a Kathakali artiste is trying to break free from its creator Abdulla Maliyekkal’s hands to soar up into the evening sky even as gusts of strong breeze from the Arabian Sea tug at it.
The kite has proved its mettle, winning the first prize for best performance at the Weifang International Kite Festival, in April. The annual festival held in Weifang City, known as the “kite capital of the world”, hosted participants from 56 countries.
On Thursday at the beach, the kite is the centre of attraction. Children scream and jump, unable to hide their awe, as breeze takes over from Mr.Maliyekkal and the kite gains height. On May 10, Social Welfare Minister Dr. M. K. Muneer is scheduled to visit.
But beyond all the fanfare, for Mr. Maliyekkal, the kite is the culmination of his long journey as a boy from Kuttichira, a historically important neighbourhood in the city, where culture effortlessly blends with trade right from the heydays of the Zamorin, the traditional rulers of Calicut.
A 37-year-old event manager now, he remembers how as a child he would join his friends and fly paper kites on the very same beach.
“Later on, adventure sports got a grip on me. I was a member of the National Adventure Foundation and discovered power kites. Slowly, I got more and more involved in kite designing and decided to make a unique one of my own,” said Mr. Maliyekkal.
Like-minded friends got together and formed the ‘One India Kite’ team and travelled to various parts of the country, from Baroda in Gujarat to Kappad beach in Koyilandy, to exhibit and fly kites.
“In 2011, I got a chance to go to a kite festival in Malaysia as part of a two-member team from India. It was there I met the New Zealander Peter Lynn, a Guinness Book record holder for the largest kite and manufacturer and distributor of inflatable kites,” Mr. Maliyekkal recounts.
Unique to Kerala
It was Lynn, he said, who gave him the idea of designing a kite unique to the culture and traditional values of his place of birth – Kerala.
“I showed him a Kathakali face and he said that’s what I should take around the world,” said Mr. Maliyekkal, who won $300 as prize money at the Weifang festival.
For an adventure sports enthusiast, Mr. Maliyekkal admits kite-flying is a quiet hobby and ‘100 per cent natural’ hobby. “Beaches in our State are spread over 550 km. It is time the government took an initiative to include kite-flying in our tourism calendar,” he said.