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Monday, January 17, 2022

Fear of Omicron: Bans on sale of kites in Jaipur

Jaipur: The sale of kites for the festival of Makar Sankranti, which is being celebrated loudly in Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur, is being hit this time due to the increasing cases of corona virus and its Omicron form and the restrictions imposed by the government. The shops of kite, manjha and string are adorned in the city, but the traders are disappointed due to lack of customers.

It is noteworthy that there is a special enthusiasm for kite flying in Jaipur on Makar Sankranti. A large number of people, especially children and youth enjoy this festival by flying colorful kites. However, this time again the restrictions have hit the market.

Traders say that sales are down by around 30-40 per cent due to the Covid pandemic and subsequent restrictions. Usman Khan, a kite seller from Handipura, told PTI, “The enthusiasm of the people has not waned, but the fear of COVID-19 and government restrictions have definitely affected the kite business this year.” Handipura and Haldiyan Ka Rasta are the two major kite markets in the state capital.

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Khan said, “Every year, before Makar Sankranti, a lot of customers used to come. But, this year, the numbers are much less. Sales are expected to pick up on Thursday, a day before the festival.” Lohri is on Thursday while Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on Friday. Handipura has around 200 regular shops and several temporary stalls selling kites, manjha, charkhi and sky lanterns. Some traders from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh also come to Handipura every year for business.

Bareilly’s kites and manjhas are popular for their quality. The sale usually starts a week before the festival and peaks on January 12-13. “Usually, we exhaust almost the entire stock by January 14, but this year it looks like we will be left with a lot of stock,” Khan said.

Abdul Ghafoor, who has been manufacturing human-sized kites with the faces of politicians and celebrities for four decades, said the market share is low this year. “Generally, the market remains open till late. This year, we will find shops open till 8 pm only due to the guidelines of the government.” According to an estimate, around 2,000 people, including women, are engaged in making kites in Handipura. There has also been a jump in the prices of kites and manjha due to various reasons where common kites are available for Rs 2-10, the price of manjha ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 800 per winch.

Kite seller Qayyum said, “Kite flying remains a favorite activity of children even in the digital age, but circumstances have affected our business. Meanwhile, Jaipur District Collector Antar Singh Nehra has issued an order banning kite flying from 6 am to 8 am and 5 to 7 pm till 31 January 2022 in all revenue limits in Jaipur district.

He told PTI, “In view of the safety of birds, kite flying has been banned for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. Birds mostly fly during these four hours and the chances of getting injured due to kite strings are high.” Nehra also said that Chinese Manjha has been banned. This plastic stringed manja can cause serious injury to humans and birds. (agency)

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