In Varanasi, kites are everywhere. With so little wind and such simple kites, the locals make it look easy to fly the kites. Varanasi is so distinctive from any other city I’ve been to. The locals seem to magically just put them in the air, just like releasing a balloon from your grasp and letting it fly up into nothing. I think they use them as a one time use or maybe two times, and it isn’t rare for it to get snarled up in a tree.

The people do a game with these kites called battle, where two or more people try to take down the other kites. You don’t just have to do it with a friend, someone can just spot another kite, not know who is using it, and try to take it down. The other person will then try to take down the kite who challenged them, and that may end up with more kites joining in. The goal is to either cut its rope and let it fall or hit it down. Then there is also the result of a tie, where they get snarled up and both fall to the ground. It’s interesting how you probably don’t know who or where the person you’re challenging is. Rarely, if the person is very competitive, they will put daggers or slicers on the sides of the kites to cut the string down because they are thin but also decently strong.

The simplicity of the kites is unique. It is just a paper rhombus with a string and two wooden sticks that help keep the paper in shape. And yet they make it look so easy to put them in the air as I mentioned before. When they play battle, many of the crash into trees or on roof decks. We saw a small tree that had about 15 shredded kites dangling from its branches. I even found one in pretty good shape…

When I found a kite I tried it out because it only had a little tear on the side. I then realized how difficult it was to fly these kites with just hanging it off the edge of the roofdeck and trying to get it to fly. The locals just tugged on it a few times, turned it, and then… Bingo! It would fly high in the air. As for me, all that did was hit the kite into the wall of the place we are staying in and get slightly off the ground and then it went down again. I finally decided to give up after getting the kite out of a nearby tree (I tugged it out). I now get how difficult it is to fly a kite in Varanasi.

Below: The kite I tried using

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Below: Me trying to fly a kite

Below: Kite-eating tree

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Below: A kite in flight (not mine)