Yesterday in Central Asia they observed Basant, a spring holiday named after the yellow mustard flowers that bloom near this time of year. Celebrated throughout the Indian subcontinent, the people in Lahore, Pakistan show more enthusiasm and most.
Historically the citizens of Lahore fly colorful kites in honor the the end of winter. A tradition of Kite Battles has evolved, where some use wire or glass-coated string to cut another’s kite free. Many fly their kites from rooftops. Often gunshots are fired into the air.
CNN reports that eleven people died in yesterday’s celebrations.
The deaths and injuries were caused by stray bullets, sharpened kite-strings, electrocution and people falling off rooftops on Sunday at the conclusion of the two-day Basant festival, said Ruqia Bano, spokeswoman for the emergency services in the city of Lahore.
The festival is regularly marred by casualties caused by sharp kite strings or celebratory gunshots fired into the air. Kite flyers often use strings made of wire or coated with ground glass to try to cross and cut a rival’s string or damage the other kite, often after betting on the outcome.
Pakistani Internet new source Dawn.com shows bereaved mothers on the front page. the article lists the names and ages of the deceased, including:
Eleven-year-old Umer Farooq was killed in Gulshan-i-Ravi when the string of a stray kite slit his throat.
Danish, 13, died when he slipped from the roof of his house while catching a stray kite in Khudad Street in Baghbanpura.
Maryam, 8, received a stray bullet while he was in her house in Garden Town and died at the General Hospital.
A 50-year-old woman, Naheed Taranum, fell from the roof of her house in Rang Mahal while she was trying to protect one of her children involved in kite-flying.
Shareef, 14, fell fall from the roof of his house in Shafiqabad and was killed. He was trying to catch a stray kite.
Imran, 20, was run over by a car on a Defence road while running after a stray kite.
Pakistanlink.com paints a different picture, as they proclaim:
Lahorites celebrated the Basant night with traditional fervour with kite flying, music and other cultural programmes.
Thousands enjoyed the Basant night in the city. One of the most prominent places in town was Asif Jah’s haveli where Basant night celebrated and participated by the people enthusiastically. A musical show was arranged at the Haveli along with kite flying.
Lahore wore a festive look as the roads and canal in the city were decorated tastefully for the Basant night and the spring festival. Lahorites came in thousands to the roads and streets on the occasion, which badly affected the traffic flow in the city.
Large number of people arrived in the city from other parts of the country to celebrate Basant in Lahore. Several foreign dignitaries also attended Basant musical night at a local hotel.
I’m all for cultural diversity. I can embrace expressions of the joy of life. Pardon my innate American judgment showing through, but doesn’t this sound a bit strange?
A 16-year-old girl and a schoolboy, 12, died after their throats were slashed by metal kite strings in separate incidents. Two people were electrocuted while they tried to recover kites tangled in overhead power cables, Bano said. (CNN)
This is not an isolated incident. Kite strings coated with ground glass, letting a youngster fly a kite from the rooftop, stray bullets happen every year. A cultural acceptance of these risky behaviors shows an almost pathological disregard for life - even as life is celebrated. Weird.