Archive for the ‘Basant’ Category

Basant Ban

The hue and cry raised by a certain section of the society on the recent banning of Basant by the Lahore High Court compels me to bring forward my point of view.

These people mourn for the loss of a cultural event which attracted thousands of foreigners from all over the world. In the prevailing geopolitical situation, I hardly think that a bunch of colorful kites would be able to lure an already fear stricken foreigner to a death trap. Moreover this cultural loss might be a matter of concern for a handful of socialites and five star hotels but not for the common man.

It saddened me to read the post Sir, we can’t control this. “Then ban it” where the blogger citing reasons for the ban on Basant writes, “The reasons quoted were not many – two in fact, one being the loss to human life and the other being disruption in WAPDA’s electricity supply causing monetary loss”,  as if these two reasons are not good enough. The blogger goes on to write, “The ban on Basant is silly. Loss of life and loss of the ever-so-present WAPDA supply are not reasons at all. And here’s why: the loss of life is not because the kite-flying itself is dangerous. Kite-flying has been around for quite some time. The murderous streak now automatically tagged with basant itself, has been introduced through the development of stronger string”.

Stronger string or not, if kite-flying has been around for quite sometime then so are the deaths related to this festival. Why do we forget hundreds of innocent lives lost which are not related to the killer string but are still a part and parcel of this event? We can try to get scot-free by saying that if someone is run over by a car or falls from a roof top then it is his own fault but can we blame a poor boy for running after the kites which we so lavishly shower just because he too wants to have his share of fun; or can we blame a child for falling off his roof because his father didn’t have enough money to build proper railing around the roof. Our politicians, so eager to climb up on their roofs might not be so hungry for such an amusement if God forbid it was one of their own who had lost his life to this blood thirsty event.

We would view this entertainment very differently and the ban would not look silly anymore if our own child had to run on the roads to grab a kite!

Coming to the ingenious solutions provided by the advocates of Basant. Yes, you may ban motorbikes and bicycles for two days but have we ever thought that for some people that is the only way of transportation and in case an emergency arises it is their only way out. Secondly you may also ban the deadly string but is it administratively possible to keep a check on such a large scale?

With all due respect to everyone’s viewpoint, I am of the opinion that even if one life is lost due to Basant, it is certainly not worth it.

Sir, we can’t control this. “Then ban it”

Basant was a thing of beauty and was one of those rare events where a truly cultural event gathered people from all over the world. Yes, the world. Lahore owned basant, regardless where it came from. Even Lahore Metblogs has a separate category just for Basant!
But you had to be living in a hole to not know that basant has been banned for some time. A petition moved sometime around 2005, initially by none other than the mayor of Lahore, Mian Amer Mahmood. Slowly but surely, you witnessed an exercise in ‘how to control and change a city’s very culture through the power of political will’. The reasons quoted were not many – two in fact, one being the loss to human life and the other being disruption in WAPDA’s electricity supply causing monetary loss.
But here’s how I see it all:
The ban on basant is silly. Loss of life and loss of the ever-so-present WAPDA supply are not reasons at all. And here’s why: the loss of life is not because the kite-flying itself is dangerous. Kite-flying has been around for quite some time. The murderous streak now automatically tagged with basant itself, has been introduced through the development of stronger string. A lot of people think that it is the razor-like solution that the string is soaked in that causes the string to be a knife-on-the-loose. Although the sharpness is part of the reason, the main reason is that the string itself is very strong. There was a time, I remember, when I was able to snap the string by pulling on it with both hands. It is a typical way of checking a string’s strength – tug at it and see when it breaks. But recently, I would notice that it has become harder and harder to just ‘snap’ the string. You would have to resort to either some serious pulling or just use to teeth to sever the string. It is the combination of ultra-strong string with razor-sharp solution (a.k.a. manja) that makes the string a killer.
The real culprit has always been the string itself, and building upon that, you can see that the makers of the string are also the culprit. And by culprit I mean the ‘reason’ for the chaos, not the guilty party (guilt is for the courts to decide, remember?)

The reason the basant was and is still banned is not because the festival has turned deadly, it is because some people have invented and then sold this killer string to a lot of unsuspecting people. In fact, the real reason is that the administration has found it beyond them to crack down on the few string producers that manufacture the deadly string.

Basant night unfolds despite Long March

Lahore has sadly been put under siege by the so-called saviors of democracy. All entry points to the city have been cordoned off to prevent any of the lawyers from reaching Lahore. According to its original schedule, Long March is to continue from Lahore to Islamabad on Sunday. In a ridiculous move, the current Punjab Government has officially announced Lahore’s most celebrated event; Basant to be held on Sunday too.

Reports are that despite all the chaos around, people in Lahore are celebrating Basant Night tonight. Get-togethers, parties and kite-flying competitions have been arranged on very short notice in Old Lahore as well as other parts of the city. And we even hear that two people have already died, thanks to deadly wire-strings that some people use to fly kites.

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I don’t even know whether we are too indifferent or is it really not important to miss an opportunity to have fun with family and friends. On the other hand, we have history’s most shameful events uncovering as hard-core crackdown on lawyers, political activists and members of the civil society continues. More serious news is coming from blogger updates warning that the government might be blocking all mobile phone services and fuel supply as well as closing down all acadmeic institutions to thwart Long March’s progression. (Please note that these updates are not confirmed yet).

How much must we lose?

The Long March is imminent now; this country knows no peace in any sector. But never will we stop celebrating, will we?

 

I live in a neighborhood that apparently has a lot of people who have these programmes to celebrate every single festival on earth. Plus, they make sure that every house for miles around will hear every singer they put on their stages. No matter what time it is; if these people have a mind to do so, they will not let us sleep till the wee hours of the morning, and will not let us study during the day. No escaping their music or their qawwali, not a chance. And right now, what I’m listening to is someone shouting at the top of his lungs into a microphone ‘Basant Mubarak! Welcome Basant!’, while I’m sitting in my own house.

 

What’s wrong with us? I ponder on his thought every day, and I get so many answers it disturbs me even more. What is sickening us so much that we just don’t care about anything but our own frivolous, impermanent, and dangerous fun?

 

The boards on the Liberty roundabout are not even partially old yet. They still strike a pang to our hearts and we still crane our necks to see the pictures of the men that died in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

The story of the death of one particular guard on that day is still fresh in my mind. He was lying on the road, trying to make the gunmen think that he was dead, and when they were just leaving, he raised his head. And then they came back especially to kill him. How can someone be so cruel and so hard so as to kill a person who never did him any harm? How can someone come back especially to kill that person?

 

But then, how can a government be so cruel as to allow Basant to take place; an event that kills so many innocent children every year? How can they condone the death of so many people in such a horrible manner; by having strings dipped in powdered glass cut them on the neck?

Forget the government. Why do people do it? Why is there no pressure to stop this event?

We cannot deny that hundreds die on Basant every year. No one can deny that people will use powdered glass and even wires to fly their kites.

 

Most of all, we cannot deny that the frivolous pleasure that people get from it is so blatantly disrespectful of the events in this country, in this very city. Bomb blasts. Price hikes. Unemployment. Attacks on the cricket team. The death of seven young security guards who were only doing the best job they could.

 

One last thing. Has anyone noticed the decency displayed by the Sri Lankan cricketers?

I shudder to think what would have happened if (God forbid) an American cricket team had deigned to come to Pakistan for a tour, and the same thing happened. If some eyebrows are raised at the mention of America playing cricket, it may be well to mention here that the States were very interested in cricket at the time of the last World Cup. So it might have been a possibility. But if what the Sri Lankan cricketers went through had been experienced by most other cricket teams of the world, the result would have been much more disastrous in its impact on Pakistan in general.

Take India, for example. I hate doing this, because I’ve got some very close Indian friends of my own, but the way we are being treated by India now, there probably wouldn’t have been a shred of the decency that Sri Lankans have shown about this incident. For India, we’re the ultimate bombers. They have no terrorists of their own; at least not according to the mass media hype we hear and read about. At the least, I speculate that the airspace restrictions would have been put on again. And if any Americans were there, well, a few more drones, perhaps?

It’s not to say that what has happened is not such a huge deal after all; not to say that it is an incident that should be tolerated, but I merely point out the real gentlemen in the game here. Maybe we’re just not used to be treated politely anymore, but I was extremely surprised to hear that the bus driver who survived the attack has been called by the Sri Lankans for a tour with his family. Additionally, as soon as the cricketers landed and were interviewed in their home country, many of the first comments I read were praising the driver who saved their lives. Not one of them uttered a disparaging comment on the security provided, even though they had every right to do so. On the televised interviews, even though the reporters were trying to squeeze such comments out of them, the most these men would do would be to excuse themselves with a polite ‘thank you’.

 

Decency, people. Just simple decency. Something that we call in Urdu sharafat. That’s what is there in these cricketers who suffered so much at the hands of our country, and still do not say anything. Maybe they respect the deaths of the people who were protecting them. Maybe they’re just decent people overall, which comes to the same thing.

 

One thing I know; they’re showing more decency than our own people. For everyone here, a soon as something like Basant rolls around, nothing matters anymore. Not killing someone. Not feeling guilt for what our guests went through when they tried to save one of our biggest sports. Not mourning the mindless deaths of the countrymen who tried to protect them

All that matters, at the end of the day, is flying kites. But I’m going to skip the sarcastic ending for now and I’m going to plead with you. Anyone who is reading this; out of respect, out of decency, out of your own humanity, do not celebrate Basant. We have no excuse for celebrating anything; if we want to cheer ourselves up and not feel anything about what has been happening recently, we have means other than those which kill even more people. Try to convince your families and friends that such a celebration will be disgraceful behavior, to say the least. We owe our guests and our own people at least that much.

PHA confirms Basant Schedule

Finally, there has been an official announcement by the Parks & Horticulture Society (PHA) of Lahore regarding the festival of Spring celebrations (Jashan-e-Baharan) and Basant.

According to the government department responsible for major events, outdoor decorations and sponsorships, that is PHA, Jashan-e-Baharan will be celebrated from March 01, 2008 to March 31, 2008 while the much awaited festival of kites; Basant will be held on March 16, 2008.

Tentative Date for Basant

Update: PHA announces Basant & Jashan-e-Baharan Dates
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Loosely confirmed as February 24, 2008, pushing the event’s celebration after elections (only if held).

Jashan-e-Baharan (+*Basant*+) Kicks Off!

The Basant and Jashan-e-Baharan (Celebrations of the Spring) festitivities are taking off in the city starting from today. These include a number of traditional cultral events with Jillani Park (Race Course Park) being the epicenter of it all.

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Festival of the Kites
Source: Things Asian

The month-long (February 22 – March 23) festival will include a colorful display of lights and boats on parts of the Canal that runs through the city and on the Mall as well as an open fun fair and musical gala at the Race Course Park. In addition to all this, there will be mushairas, animal and pet shows, food, music, band performances, a book-fair and parades at different venues across the city.

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A decorated tree in the Jillani Park (Race Course Park)

Basant, although an integral part of the Jashn-e-Baharan festivities, is being kept aside as a separate two-day-only event for which security and law-watch has been substantially tightened. Police is on search for possible violaters of ban on metal-twine usage and other related offences.

So, gear up for a festive mood while keeping a strict eye on your neighborhood for any outlawed activities… And, yes, did I mention that Lahore Police has announced a cash reward of Rs.5000 for those who report any violation of laws on kite-flying…

Basant – to ban or not to

The Government of Punjab has conditionally lifted the one-year-long ban on kite-flying and the festival of colors; Basant, atleast temporarily. Under the new proposal:

– metal-reinforced and glass-coated strings are banned
– only cotton strings up to a certain thickness are allowed
– kites larger than 2×2 feet, that require a thicker string, are prohibited
– kite strings can only be coated with wheat-flour glue, dye and soft, finely-ground glass.

It was good news for many while for many others, it was not. This decision of the Government of Punjab was soon followed by the announcement of Basant festival on February 25th by the locals. However, all was not rosy when Supreme Court interfered and demanded a report from the Punjab Government over its decision to lift the ban.

What do you guys think; is it the Government that is responsible for not being able to control the lethal trade of manufacturing metal strings in the city or is it the people who have no regard for innocent lives?? And what about Basant? Should it be banned or not?

Lahore’s 2nd Gift to the World: Basant

“In the spirit of all the holiday gift giving that will be taking place over the next couple of months, all the Metroblogging cities are giving 7 gifts to the world throughout the week of NOV 26th – DEC 2. Lahore comes up with its 2nd Gift to the World.”

The second most important aspect of Lahore’s cultural character is the colorful event of Basant; the Kite-flying festival in spring.

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View of Lahore on Basant Night

Basant is a true Lahori celebration of colors, flowers, kites, fragrances, of love & of a sweet youthful time called Spring. Each March brings the colorful blooming of Lahore, the city of Gardens.

Whole of the city is decorated with colorful sponsor banners and lights all along the canal, the Mall Road and Main Boulevard, Gulberg. All major landmarks are lit up to show grandeur of Lahore’s rich architecture and its Mughal & British Colonial heritage.

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Queen Noor Jehan’s brother, Asif Jah’s Haveli; all lit up for Basant

Friends and family gather at common places to celebrate reunions and party for most of the Basant Night. Starting from the sunset, flood lights are lit up all over the city’s skyline as people start off with white-kite flying. BarBQs are served with traditional Lahori dishes as the cries of “Bo Katas” & Dhol (traditional drums) echo throughout the next day.

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Friends & Family celebrate Basant Source: Rehan Fazal’s Flickr

People from different cultures and countries are welcomed by their hosts. Many foreign dignitaries, diplomats from the federal capital, Islamabad are invited over to different Basant events in Lahore.
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Basant Bahar at McDonald’s

McDonald’s celebrated Basant & Spring festival by decorating the interiors of their restaurants with kites & colors.

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Basant Bahar Hai; Sanu McDonald’s Naal Pyaar Hai

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