Fifth generation kite makers keep the tradition flying high

People enjoying on the beach in Visakhapatnam on Friday.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Holding a white string, Farzana Shiek measures it to tie it carefully into the holes on either side of a colourful kite.

It has been a long day for her as she waits for buyers at her stall at Beach Road. Farzana belongs to the traditional kite makers family from Visakhapatnam.

Decades ago, her father-in-law and his family were the first to get handmade paper kites flying in the skies of the city.

After making paper kites for over 80 years, for the first time the traditional kite makers had to replace paper with plastic.

“Due to the pandemic-induced transport restrictions last year, the paper that we normally procure from Kolkata for making kites could not be delivered. We had no option but to make plastic kites,” rues Farzana.

About 18 years ago, her father-in-law Shiek Subhan Khan along with Farzana’s husband Shiek Farid started A F Kites.

“We are the fifth generation of kite makers in the city. Back then, we had two small rooms full of paper and kites in our house in Chinna Waltair. We would make paper kites all round the year and bring it to Beach Road in a small box to sell,” reminisces Farzana.

Over a period of time, the kite makers expanded their stalls from one to four at Beach Road. “We have now shifted to Anakapalle and have a team of four kite makers who assist us,” says Farzana. Last year has been tough on the traditional kite makers. “Kite making is a laborious work. It takes a lot of time, effort and expertise to make a perfect kite. This time we could make about 16,000 kites, much lesser than a normal year and the sales has dwindled too,” she says. Moreover, many small stalls have come up along Beach Road, but all of them source kites from Gujarat.

As the Sankranti festive spirit picks up, Farzana along with her husband come to Beach Road at 8 a.m. every day and stay back till 9 p.m. for selling kites. They have kites from ₹20 to ₹1,000 range. Their kite making enterprise also supports a group of 25 children in a Madrasa.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:08:49 AM |

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