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"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."
- Jawaharlal Nehru (Speech on Indian Independence Day, 1947)
India's Independence Day (Swatantrata Divas) is celebrated on August 15th to commemorate its independence from British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation on that day in 1947. The day is a national holiday in India. It is celebrated all over the country through flag-hoisting ceremony and distribution of sweets. The main celebration takes place in New Delhi, where the Prime Minister raises the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally televised speech from its ramparts. In his speech, he highlights the achievements of the government during the past year, raises important issues and gives a call for further development. Prime minister also pays tribute to leaders of the freedom struggle.
Throughout varying regions of India, there is a popular tradition of flying kites on the Independence Day. The sky is dotted with hundreds of colourful kites and people engage in kite-flying competitions. Balconies and roof-tops of houses are full of people flying kites and one can hear cheerful shouts of children in the evening as the kites soar in the sky.
Kite flying or Patang Baazi is a cultural sport in Haryana. Kite flying is mostly done on the Basant Panchami, Raksha Bandhan and Makar Sankranti. In Delhi kites are flown on the Independence day of India. However, Kites can be flown any time throughout the year. It is a fun sport for all times. Some say the history of Kites dates back to the days of Mahabharat. Kites were not only used in receiving messages but also measuring distances in war times.
The kite is called a Patang and the string with which it is flown is called 'Dor' in Haryana. While in Punjab they are called Guddi and Manjha respectively. The wood and bamboo roll on which the string is wound is called a 'Hujka', and in Punjabi it is called a 'Charkhadi'. The kites are given different names depending upon the color combination and design. Names like Danda (stick), Pari (fairy), Gilasa, Chand Tara (moon & star), Shakkar Para, Chhapan Chhuri, Tiranga (tricolor), Budda (old man), Patiyal, Lepo are common. Romantic verses in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu are sometimes inscribed on the Patangs to send messages to the beloved on whose roof the kite is flown.
Kite fighting, which involves trying to cut the string of each other's kites, is the most interesting aspect of kite flying. It is called Patang Baazi in Hindi. The Indian fighter kites are of medium size normally from 1 feet to 4 feet in across, made of special thin paper. The kite is flown with specially made thread called 'Dor'. Dor is the most important thing in kite flying and many precautions are taken to prepare it. The thin cotton thread for Dor is locally prepared in Haryana as well as purchased from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur (Rajasthan). Then a paste made of glue and finely powdered glass is thinly spread on the thread in a special way to make the 'Dor'. Additives like pigeon's droppings, egg and sea surf are added to make the 'Dor' more lethal. Sometimes a coating of wax is used on the string to make it slick and difficult to cut. During the Kite flying season a lot of money is spent on the kites and Dor. People use necks of bottles or tapes to cover their fingers as the sharp Dor can cut their fingers while flying kites. There is loud music in the air and people dance when they cut someone other's kite.
In towns and cities of Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and rest of India, kite flying is a craze. People fly their kites mostly from the roofs of their houses. At some places Kites are also flown from open grounds. Kite-Flying is on its high in the period of August - September, and February - March, as the weather is suitable with a mild breeze. At some places in Haryana there are kite-flying competitions which attract enthusiastic crowds. Kite flying has contributed to the composite culture and harmony of India. It has also promoted national integration. Making a kite is an art and flying it is a fine art. Kite Makers inherited and learnt the art of making kites from their ancestors passed it on to their future generations.