No Kheench for Local, Eco-friendly Kites,Threads
HYDERABAD: The festival of kites is here and the kite lovers are gearing up for the fun. But the usual buzz is missing at Mohammed Mansoor Khan’s residence at Dabeerpura in the Old City. Amongst so many festivals in the country, where people of diverse cultures and religions live, the only festival in which both the Hindu and Muslim equally participate and enjoy is the kites festival. The ritual of kite flying is a hobby which even the Nizams of Hyderabad enjoyed doing.
Seven generations of Mansoor Khan’s family have been in the business of Manja making. His family started from the time of Mehboob Ali Pasha the Nizam and his sons are still continuing. This work is a matter of 3-4 months while he gets involved in some other work that suits his age profile, his sons drive auto-rickshaws at other times.
“There is no great fun in playing and flying kites with the nylon threads, the real enjoyment is when one flies the kites using the local cotton manjas that are available in various qualities like C-28 (made of 12 chords, 9 chords and 6 chords) and C-30 made of 3 chords. The chords determine the strength of the thread which is breakable and is not artificial,” he adds.
Mansoor has pleaded the government to ban the goods from other states as manja making or any such local exclusive activity is the only means of livelihood for few poor families, and when people from other places and embraced and encouraged the poor people lose their employment and are forced to get in to different works like labourers, domestic workers etc.
The traditional thread makers use a special thread made of gum, glass and rice which is used in flying kites and entering into duels with other kite flyers. Firstly the glass is ground finely like talcum powder and is mixed with gum and cooked rice. The mixture is made in to a dough after adding Aloe Vera or eggs to it and finally colour. Then the dough is used to rub against the cotton thread and manja is made. There were times when they made eight dozens of manja per day and a lot of it was sold. But now people are making it only on orders, where the customers provide all the material.
With the advent of nylon thread, popularly known as ‘Tangus’ in local lingo and Raebaraeli manja, there are very few people who opt or buy the locally prepared manja. These Tangus and Rae Baraeli manjas are specially brought from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Mumbai and Delhi and with these varieties coming into demand, local manja makers hardly have orders to take care and today they hardly make `200-300 a day.
“We used to start making manjas in the month of August-September only and by November people used to place their orders, but that is history now. As people hardly prefer cotton manja, we have also stopped producing much”, says Faizan from Yakutpura.
“There were about 100 families in Dabeerpura and Dhoolpet areas in manja making for decades. It was a major source of livelihood for many families where they worked from 4 am to 10 pm, but not any more. There are barely 15 to 20 families left who are still doing the same while others have switched to trading of the Nylon manjas”, says Akhram, of Gulzar houz.
Syed Mohsin Ali, who makes Paper Kites popularly known as paper patangs every year, feels that there are no takers for the paper kites which are made locally. “The kites which come from the Chinese market are more popular than the local ones. Though the quality is not good, people prefer them as they are cheaper”, says Syed, who is making these kites for the past 20 years and are into this business from the last three generations. Syed, who also runs a mobile handset shop, gets busy during this season for four months and makes the paper kites simultaneously managing his business.
The difference between his kites and that of others is that his are of high quality as they are made from khadi paper. The increasing material costs are also a cause of concern for Syed which makes it tough for him tough to increase the wages of his labourers.” Though the material costs are increased, the patang rate hasn’t increased,” laments Syed who has 18-20 labourers who work for him. With the increase of china made paper kites into the market, especially in the last 5 years, it’s been pretty tough to run the business feels Syed.”The wholesale market is doing fine but the retail market is not that good”, adds Syed, who manages to get `400-500 per day by selling the paper kites.