Society

Kozhikode’s One India Kite attracts youngsters to kite flying

 One India Kite Team’s circle kite

One India Kite Team’s circle kite

Dashing shapes in myriad colours dot the blue skies of Eve’s beach at Kovalam. While kite-fliers and city crowd pack the beach for the Barrier Free International Kite Fest, Abdulla Maliyekkal scolds the volunteers for not keeping the crowd at bay. He then clears a large area on the beach for the main event - stunt (or sport) kite-flying by his One-India kite team from Kozhikode.

Abdulla proudly watches as one of his protégés enthrals the audience with his kite-flying stunts. Handled using two strings the stunt-kite, rather than gliding in the air like a regular kite, cruises through the air with an audible flutter while the long stunning tail makes gorgeous curved shapes.

He says, “This will take weeks to learn and is not something newbies can do. We train them through different levels and will only let them participate if they have mastered all the five levels of sports kite-flying.”

 Stunt kite

Stunt kite

Brought up in his family’s ancestral home, a stone’s throw away from Kozhikode beach, watching folks fly kites of myriad colours and shapes in the strong winds from the Arabian sea, it would seem obvious why Abdulla grew up to be a passionate kite-flyer. “Although that sowed the seeds for my interest in kites, it didn’t last long. After several years, I got to paraglide as part of an NCC tour during my college days and that rekindled my love for kite-flying,” he adds.

For Abdulla, kite-flying means pure happiness and freedom. He founded the One India Kite team as a division under his event management company based in Kochi, in 2007 to pass on the joy of flying to the next generation. “It is something that will teach the children to dream and be free. Plus it is an outdoor activity that can take the kids away from screens,” Abdulla explains. The flying itself, although much romanticised, is not an easy art to master, especially stunt kite-flying, which might take years to perfect. But learning, if passionate, will only take a couple of weeks.

“Our course in stunt kite-flying involves five levels of 100, 80, 40, 30 and 20 hours of flying two-line kites. But we haven’t started teaching synchronous flying — handling two stunt kites simultaneously,” says Abdulla.

Handling of kite and learning to adjust with changes in wind direction, he adds, are the most important things to learn when it comes to flying. The main instructor for stunt kite-flying is Abdulla’s 15-year-old son Faheen, who learned the sport from an Argentinian trainer he met at Delhi International Kite Festival in 2016. At present 12 kids are being trained by the team. Abdulla adds that, for now, they are extremely selective when it comes to students and just admits those who show real passion in kites.

The team only recently forayed into stunt kites, mainly to attract people, especially youngsters, to the sport. In fact, One India Kite Team specialises in circle kites. Both stunt kites, shaped like Swifts, and circle kites are made at Kozhikode by the team itself, mostly using imported fabric.

 Abdulla Maliyekkal

Abdulla Maliyekkal

Their huge circular flying artworks have won awards for crowd-popularity and innovativeness at numerous International Kite Festivals. “It is something that lets the spectators take part in the event. Due to its size, it takes a lot of people to lift it up and you need fast winds as well,” says Abdulla as he watches a group of spectators led by his team-mates try to lift the huge circular kite of around 20 ft diameter with stunningly coloured cone-shaped air-holes dotting its surface. “When the air catches it, the cones will project out like thorns and it will be even more stunning. But it is too late now. Sunset is close and the winds have fallen,” he adds.

Blessed with such a long coastline and countless beaches, Abdulla believes it is high time kite-flying be made a part of Kerala tourism. He says, “There is great scope for annual international kite festivals here. But it requires dedicated organisers who understand the nuances of flying. I am absolutely sure tourists will fly down from all over the world to such events if we can make them part of our annual tourism map.”

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 9:59:05 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/kozhikodes-one-india-kite-hopes-to-attract-youngsters-to-kite-flying/article22908065.ece