Restoring a lost heritage

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Nikhil was a picture of concentration. His eyes transfixed on his kite that soared high into the sky. The deft movements of the string controlled the flight of the kite even as he kept on changing positions with graceful strides akin to that of a ballet dancer. Then his kite became a mere dot in the overcast sky as if challenging the clouds to stop its flight to greater heights with a spell of shower.

Nikhil was among the 50-odd children who came down to fly kites on the Palluruthy Veli ground on Tuesday. It was organised by Kochi Heritage, a voluntary organisation involved in restoring the rich heritage and traditions of Western Kochi. It was indeed a revival of a now extinct tradition that in the past had marked out Palluruthy during the Onam season. Flying kites was a widely popular form of celebrating Onam here till the mid-80s, said M. Smithy, general secretary, Kochi Heritage.

Without anyone organising it, hundreds of people of all age groups used to descend on the ground vying for a space for their kite in the sky crowded with kites of all shapes and colours.

“During those times, hundreds of kites used to remain trapped on them,” Mr. Smithy said nostalgically pointing towards huge shade trees that lined the ground.

Jayaraj Thomas, president of the organisation, blamed the invasion of television and other electronic gadgets into the living rooms for the gradual death of outdoor games like kite flying.

Gireeshan, a master kite flier of his times, was seen moving around giving tips to the ‘young fliers.’ “Back then, we never bought kites. We used to make them in shapes we wanted,” he said.

Kochi Heritage sourced kites for all the registered participants while others were asked to bring their own kites. Damodaran, an old hand in making kites, was one of the main suppliers.

The celebrations also witnessed the revival of another dying art form of ‘Kaikottikkali.’

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