Independence Day: Keen kite collectors of Delhi
On Independence Day, August 15, three proud owners talk about their enviable, decades-old hoards featuring some of the quirkiest kites. Objects of nostalgia and affection, their kites comprise the history of the nation.
Specks of colour soaring in the sky, high above terraces and fields — kite-flying and Independence Day celebrations have been intertwined in India’s social fabric for close to a century. The activity, as well its primary instruments, the kites, are an object of nostalgia and affection for countless collectors, objets d’art that they hold on to with passion. A case in point are three kite collectors in Delhi, reminiscing fondly about their cherished possessions.
“I’ve been collecting kites since I was five. I was inspired by my grandfather, late Shri Shiv Shankar Mathur, who used to do it for sport,” says Sunil Mathur, 62, a resident of Vasundhara Enclave, adding, “The ones made by Lucknow’s legendary kitemaker, Ali Nawab Saheb, are my favourite because the paper joint is extraordinary. The kites made by him fly within our control even on a range as long as 1,500-2,000 metres.” Sharing how he has gone above and beyond for this collection, Mathur adds, “When I was 10, I looted a kite that had been designed by the late Shri Ram Sahay, a famous kitemaker in Delhi. I was adamant to get kites from his shop only. Among the 6,000 kites in my collection, some are around 45 years old.”
Mayapuri resident Kavya Shekhar, 68, who continues to buy the quirkiest kites and coach his grandson in kite-flying before preserving the beauties for his collection, shares: “I was nine years old and had a few hundred kites with me, stocked neatly in a box at home. One day, I fought with my mother a lot because she wanted to throw them all away but I stood my ground and now those few hundreds have turned out to become a collection of 10,023 kites!”
Holding onto the memories of one’s ancestors through his kite collection is just as special. Living that experience is Sagar Jain, 32, a resident of Govindpuri Extension, who continues to preserve the 86 years old collection of his father and grandfather. He gushes: “My father treasured it as a mark of remembrance of his father. The collection even has kites from the pre-Independence era! It has been passed down in our family like an heirloom, and I wish to pass it down to my son.”
Author tweets @maishascribbles