Kite flying is a fascinating experience of my childhood in late 1950s in an age of nine to fourteen years. During Makar Sakranti, the kite flying festival, I still get back to memories of my childhood when we used to make our own kites to fly as a cultural experience since no kites were sold in the market those days. Hence designing, making and flying kites was total hands-on and learning experience.
In 1950s, Kurukshetra was a very small town and there were no shops to sell kites and festival related decorations. Better learn to make your your own kites, used be the catch phrase. Moreover, flying kites from the rooftops was not allowed. We had to go outside the town in the fields, play grounds and mounds to fly kites and have fun.
Moreover, we were allowed to fly kites mainly in the afternoon when there used to hardly any birds in the sky. Shouting and running after cut-kites was a good fun for kids who could not make their own kites.
Also, in the school, teachers would tell about the historical and cultural importance of kite flying as well as teach simple aero-dynamics and related forces. A science teacher used to make efforts to reinforce the vocabulary related to the parts of a kite such as sail cover, driving sails, pilot sails, leading edge, leys, bridle, trailing edge, wing tip, cross spar, spine, bridge point, etc.
It was not merely an unconscious joyful activity but was also linked with social and academic learning. As a part of general science, we learned about the forces involved in kite flying like gravity, drag, uplift, tension, etc. Unfortunately, kite flying, as commercialized festival, has been turned into a senseless fun activity.
However, every Makar Sakranti, I still make a light flying kite, not the heavy fighting one, to revive my childhood memories. I also make it a point to take a few photographs of my flying kite like the one seen in the inset picture.
It would be nice if schools could link kite flying festival with learning about, science, designing and technology of flying as a part of curricular linkage of education with culture to make learning eventful.