BASANT (Jashn-e-Baharan) In Pakistan

By: Hani Nasir

Basant is the festival full of joy and enjoyment. It is celebrated on national level in Pakistan. Basant festival celebrated on the arrival of spring. The celebration of spring known as 'Jasn-e-baharan' in Urdu, are carried in the entire country for almost a month of February.

Basant, in particular, is celebrated in Punjab. Although, traditionally it was a festival confined to the old-walled city but now it has spread all through out the city. Other cities in which Basant is mainly celebrated are Karachi, Hyderabad, Faislabad, Sialkot and Rawalpindi/ Islamabad,Quetta etc.

The girls and boys wear yellow dress and dance on the beat of Dhole that's called Bhangra, exchanging gifts which express their love for each other through different ways.

The night before and on the day of this fabulous festival, the sky is covered with all kinds of beautiful large and small kites that decorate the sky in a glorious and pleasing day. It looks like some professional painter has painted the sky with beautiful colors.

In basant festival kites are of medium size normally from 1 to 4 feet in diameter. Kites are usually made of papers, made especially for this purpose. They are of different shapes and so identified by diverse names as “Tukal”, “Parri”, “Dookhal”, “Pan”, “Lepo”, and “Rocket”, “Parpharata” etc. The kite is tied with unique thread called “Doore”. Doore is the most important thing in kite flying and many precautions are taken to prepare it.

Thread for Doore is locally prepared in Pakistan as it is also imported to other countries. Then Manja (a paste made of glue, color and finely crushed glasses mainly) is spread on the thread in an exclusive way which then becomes “DOORE”.

There are thousand of tourists not only within country but also from outside the country that comes to enjoy this festival in Pakistan. Certain pressure groups strongly condemn basant festival. Many processions and protests are reported who are of the opinion that as every year million of dollars are spent on basant festival which if used in helping poor or in country welfare could be more productive. While on the other hand, other says that basant increases economic activity in the city boosting the city's hotel, food transport and others businesses as basant attracts people from around the corner who are willing to pay for whatever the city offers.

But even such a joyful festival has a darker side as well; hospitals are packed with kite flyers that fell off roofs and children who were hit by cars as they ran down the streets, their faces turned towards the sky to watch the kites.

Quarters of the city are plunged into darkness when rozar-sharp kite cords rolled in powdered glass or made of steel cut electricity wires. Therefore, government has even announced the reward of 5000, for anyone who reports the usage of metal wire by anyone as “Dor”.