LAHORE: Pakistan’s cultural capital is missing rich festival of Basant along with loud music, delicious foods and get together in grounds, streets, and on rooftops besides sky is also searching multi-colored kites.
This is a festival that always joins two hearts from rooftops and grounds. We all have grown old by seeing ‘stars with tails’ in the skies, and by hearing these words ‘Bo Kaata’ and ‘Paichaa Larana’. “Basant is purely a cultural event, and Lahoris know how to welcome ‘change in weather’ and its colors,” said Iqbal Qaiser, famous Punjabi writer, historian and cultural activist.
He said that Basant as a cultural festival can also be found in various literary writings i.e. Punjabi, Urdu and even Hindi. “We must remember that festivals and cultural events should be held with proper rules and regulations,” he said, adding that banning the festivals isn’t a healthy way to tackle the root causes. As the festival of colors, Basant has many reasons for families to arrange a meet up to share happiness.
“Basant is basically a validation of our relationship with the soil and the nature,” said Saeeda Diep, chairperson of the Center for Peace and Secular Studies. “This [festival] is a demonstration of how we people welcome the spring and its colors,” she said, adding that the cultural activities like Basant was healthy for the society. She suggested that activities related to kite flying can be regularized, as ban was not a solution.
Lahore has always been passionate about the celebration of Basant. Nearly all areas of the cultural city observe this festival with open hearts. The scene on crowded rooftops in Lahore was the most exquisite ones. Delicious food like chickpea curry with fried flatbreads – Cholay Pathoray – was being cooked on the festival night besides special sweet dishes.
On Basant, families were arranging get together on the rooftops where guests and visitors can enjoy sitting on traditional four-footed woven bed – charpais. When excited youngsters and teenagers were flying kites, the trained one was controlling the kite and its twine. The kids’ duty were always on the twine ball. A local said that the lovers were sacrificing their kites for each other to win.
Dr Ajaz Anwar is a conservationist and a famous painter, and his watercolour paintings show the grandeur of the old buildings and the cultural life in Lahore. Kites can be seen in his paintings. His main themes are common homes or buildings and there is a kite lover on the roof of every building and there are lot of kites coloring the sky.
“We must remember that Basant represents the first day of spring. It also displays flowers and it’s colors on blue sky,” said Dr Ajaz Anwar – recipient of president’s Pride of Performance Award in 1997. He said that Basant must return in Lahore with its glory but authorities must implement rules and regulations for a safe event. He said that Lahore and brightness of colors and light complement one another.
In South Asia, Basant is one of the oldest cultural events, especially in Punjab. This is actually annual public gathering organized to welcome spring season after winter and before summer, in which vegetation begins to appear. One of the Punjab rulers introduced the kite flying as a regular cultural activity.
Since its start, yellow is predominant color of Basant. This yellow is also considered the color of spring representing the wheat row and mustard blossoms. The festival is now part of history and is no longer celebrated due to hazards posed to public health during the kite flying. Although efforts are still underway to revive the festival and its spirit in recent years.