Independence Day 2020: The skies of Old Delhi are dotted with colourful kites every Independence Day.
The centuries-old Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, surrounded by iconic street food outlets and the calls of rickshaw-pullers are what welcome one when they visit the part of Delhi better known as "Delhi-6". Keeping old traditions alive, the skies of Old Delhi are dotted with colourful kites every Independence Day.
Bhai Mia, a resident of Old Delhi, was known as the "godfather of kites" in his neighbourhood. He had achieved several firsts in kite-flying and represented India in various international competitions and loved kites till his death.
Today, his sons Mukhtar Ahmad, Iftekhar Ahmad, Jamaluddin, Aminuddin and Javed Ahmad take their father's legacy forward by preciously keeping kites made by him stored in a wooden box.
There are some pre-requisites for the kite-flying event in their area on Independence Day. Loud speakers playing patriotic songs are to be installed, the iconic war cry of "Aayi Bo" is to be shouted and tricoloured snacks are to be served.
Aminuddin, 35, has his special kite act kept for only this day where he flies 150 kites with the tricolour kites, all on one string. "I was 12 when I started flying kites, learning it from the best, my father. Today, with me teaching my kids, life has come a full circle," he said.
Bhai Mia had also established Delhi's Diamond Kite-Flying Club in 1970, and taking his skills and passion, he travelled to New Zealand, Bahrain and Dubai.
But, why are kites flown on Independence Day? It is often linked to the freedom movement, where protest messages against the British were written on kites.
Slogans such as "Simon Go Back" used to take a flight in the sky on kites, making the intent clear. Tradition seems to have continued on Aazadi Diwas. Kite-flying is followed as a passion and a social activity in India, with people flying kites for festivals such as Makar Sakranti and Basant Panchami.
Aminuddin believes that communal harmony in this area has also made Independence Day remain the way it was 50 years ago.
"I don't see the sky filled with kites on Independence Day in the newer, urban parts of Delhi. But people here are in love with old traditions and celebrate festivals of all faiths together," Mr Aminuddin said.
He also fears the lack of awareness among people about COVID-19 and agrees that he sees many without mask in the main market. Besides, the danger every year from the sharp, synthetic manjhas, and the pandemic worries this year needs to be attended while children fearlessly move out of their home to fly kites.