Basant in Pakistan

Posted on March 22, 2008
Filed Under >Shiraz Bashir, Culture & Heritage, Society, Sports
Total Views: 59313


Shiraz Bashir

Basant – the kite flying festival of spring – was supposed to be celebrated last weekend in Lahore but, at least officially, it was postponed because of the tragic Lahore bombings. But Basant season is obviously here. For good and for bad.

Basant in Pakistan

Basant is a festival celebrating arrival of a spring season. People dress up in colorful clothes and fly Patang or gudday (Kites) of various shapes and sizes using a thoughtfully selected and prepared dor(Kite String). Some people fly kites just for fun. Others fly in serious competitions among various families, mohalas and emotions can run high.

Basant always brings childhood memories from Rawalpindi.

Kite flying Pakistan

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We use to prepare for festival by “dor sotna” (preparation of kite flying string). It starts from selecting the string first. Strings come in many varieties like number 5, 2, 12 Reech (bear), Camel brand, Air blade, 5 panda etc.

BASANT IN Pakistan

Art of “dor sotna” involves many secret ingredients like special glue, string, glass, “saresh”, color and many other secret stuff. Then “dor” is put on a “charakrhee”. After that we use to go and purchase kites of various types like gudday, Patang, Lakhnow Kut, Pari in various sizes and colors. gudday come in sizes like 2.5 Tawa, 3 Tawa, 6 Tawa whereas Patang sizes are known as Har Githhi, Panch Gitthi, 6 Githhi, 8 Githhi etc. Then dor is attached to kite using a process known as “Kanee Dalna”. It is an art itself.

Basant in Pakistan

On Basant day, we wear colorful clothes and climb to roofs and have Patang Bazee. Shouts of “Bo Kata”, “Aur Dheel Day”, “Nazar a Raha Hay Guda”, “Oyay Chor Maree Door ko”, “Khich Mar Na Yar”, “Neechay Say Neechay Say Paycha Laga” were norm. Due to very sharp “dor”, index and other fingers get very deep cuts. But those cuts were badges of honors and were proudly shown to people next day.

Basant is a fun filled festival. But every year many deaths occur due to kite string cutting somebody throat, electrocuting someone due to vicinity to overhead electric wires or falling from roof tops. So a great caution must be exercised so as not to lose human lives.


1. Salman, who is a dear friend of mine from Pakistan, enlightened me on types of Guday, Patang and Dor.
2. Photos by Rehan Fazal at

ATP’s Post on Basant from 2007:

Celebrating Basant – Idiot Stlye

27 Comments on “Basant in Pakistan”

  1. Zafar says:
    March 22nd, 2008 3:37 am

    Basant reminds me of one incident during my childhood due to which I never learned to fly the kite and lost my interest in celebrating basant in any way and I am thankful for that to my parents.

    I was about 8 or 9 years old, was not allowed to buy kites or dor or go on the roof to stand with friends to even watch. One fine day, a day before basant, I took money from my mother by showing some tentarum, she gave it to me but threatened that she will inform Dad, I did not take it seriously and thought she must be joking.

    Anyhow I went out to the shop nearby home and asked for the dor and a gudda, the shopkeeper knew my father does not like it so he refused but gave way due to my persistence but with the caution and a promise from me that I will never come back to return and ask for money.

    I was very happy to have bought the things and went to my friends rooftop and enjoyed my day there, those days the night basant was not INVENTED, another curse.

    I came back later afternoon, hid the dor and gudda away from my parents and eyes and happily concluded my basant.

    My father came back home late that evening, once we had food and he was relaxed my mother told him what I did in the day. To my surprise father did not show any anger rather he asked me to bring the dor and gudda, I was not happy to bring it out as I thought father will destroy everything but I had to after all my father was issuing an instruction and I was suppose to simply obey it no questions asked, those were the times, we were just suppose to act on fathers instructions without saying why?

    Once the dor and gudda was out in front of father he told me to go back to the shopkeeper, return the goods and get the money back. I was stunned to hear him and prayed that he should start beating me but drop his instructions, but he was admant he showed me the door and shoved me out of it saying, you can only come back once you have returned it with full refund. I went to the shopkeeper who of course refunsed and reminded me of my promise during the day. I was standing out of my home in the market for about an hour or so when one of the uncles living next to my home saw me and realized the situation by looking at my face. He knew my father and his feelings towards basant so he brought me home and told father that the punishment is enough and I should be let in the house, my father accepted and then he chatted for some time with our neighbour.

    While my father was chatting outside with the uncle, I was very happy inside the home with my prize pocession and thought that I will be enjoying this new toy of mine for many more days to come without realizing that the shock of my life is still on its way and this calm is the one which normally is called the lull before storm.

    Moments later I heard my father who was back in home now calling me, once in front of him he asked me to bring my new found toys again. He asked me to burn the things right there and then in the middle of the courtyard of the house while my mother and younger brothers watching it. I had to do it with thick tears in my eyes I saw my prize pocession being burnt to ashes before my eyes.

    I suppose you would be thinking my punishment finished, no not yet, my mother was told not to give food to me for that night, I was not allowed to watch TV for that night and I had to stand in the corner of the house looking at that corner for almost 2 hours before an aunt of mine came visiting us and got me relieved, but she did not say any harsh words to my dad for which I did not forget her for a very long time.

    A long time after that I realized what my father did was right, I dont know how to fly a kite or even place that kanni in the kite and if I go to any events I just sit and enjoy the food or little bit of atmosphere saving my hands from any cuts and saving my time from wasting in that habbit.

  2. March 22nd, 2008 4:06 am

    Kite flying is a historic tradition and should be encouraged as a sport but precuations must be taken like any other sport that can also become dangerous if played carelessly. Precious lives can be saved if proper rules are implemented instead of banning it altogether. A ban on kite flying will only deprive people from one out of a very few entertainments available to the masses in our country.

  3. Beej Kumar says:
    March 22nd, 2008 7:57 am

    [A long time after that I realized what my father did was right]

    No, it was not. It was a form of child abuse!

  4. Rizwan says:
    March 22nd, 2008 8:51 am

    I have never understood why there is such anger against basant and kite flying… I can understand that it is dangerous but the anger seems to be deeper.

  5. Absar says:
    March 22nd, 2008 8:57 am

    I love kite flying and basant.

    Growing up in Gujranwalla it was not as big as in Lahore but I spent hours as a young boy with my friends and father in kite flying. I remember our routine was that ever friday during the kite flying season, my brothers, my father and my uncles would go to the roof of our house and fly kites for hours. It was a good way of family bonding and bonding with friends. It was great fun and the whole mohalla would join in.

  6. jk says:
    March 22nd, 2008 10:14 am

    Rizwan > I agree. There is an unreasonable amount of hatred in some people for Basant.

    It’s sad that something as innocent as kite flying has become a subject for such hatred and controversy. Such madness.

  7. jk says:
    March 22nd, 2008 10:17 am

    Zafar > Thank you for sharing that story. It was very interesting. I, however, respectfully disagree that your father did the right thing. It was unreasonably harsh and unnecessary and it all could have been resolved by a simple dialogue between you and your father.

    But, it was a very interesting story :)

  8. AMIR says:
    March 22nd, 2008 11:50 am

    I think talk of baking bsant which some people say is silly. But I not fan of patang bazi . Wastes time and is dangerous

  9. Mustafa says:
    March 22nd, 2008 12:00 pm

    “I have never understood why there is such anger against basant and kite flying

  10. Mahmood says:
    March 22nd, 2008 12:47 pm

    Anger and hatred for kite flying depends on who you talk to.
    Some people think it is a Hindu festival, so they call it unislamic. I personally hate it for other reasons. My uncle was an expert in kite flying; he used all the same terms mentioned by the author. One day during basant, while coming back from his friends house after a day of kite flying, he saw something that made him give it up. It seems a father and his son got hurt while riding on a motorcycle. The father got cut in the chest and neck, but the son got cut in the neck mostly. The motorcycle also crashed because the father lost control of the bike. From my uncle

  11. Zafar says:
    March 22nd, 2008 12:58 pm

    Dear JK; I refer to Mustafa’s comments and rest my case as far as the celebrations should be done or not against his comments. He has given details and proper references to support the claim that this event is a non-muslim event and it is especially initiated to mark the death of someone who has bad mouthed about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

    I would like to comment about the punishment given by my father which you think was unreasonably harsh and unnecessary. The punishment was not harsh in any way as I was not beaten or anything I was made to go back and return the goods to make me realize that I should spend money with proper authority and if I am answerable for the money in my pocession then I should spend it with the permission to do that particular expense.

    I have realized at the age of 38 now that many punishments given by parents initially seems to be “unreasonably harsh and unnecessary”, but they are alwasy meant to teach us a lesson.

    I am sure my father did not know at that time the start of basant which Mustafa has explained but his actions or hate about basant as I understand was due to its expensive nature and his inability to support that unreasonable expense as he was already his maximum efforts to provide the best possible education for me and 2 or my brothers. One can argue that he would have sat with me and discussed in detail that this expense is not bearable or this habit is not good but seriously a child does not understand such things, child only wants to get his demands met immediately.

  12. jk says:
    March 22nd, 2008 2:40 pm

    For me, Basant is about flying a kite. It does not matter to me if 1000 years ago a non-muslim also flew a kite in spring.

  13. Qudsia says:
    March 22nd, 2008 3:17 pm

    For those who want to bring religion needless into everything, all I can say is “GO FLY A KITE!”

  14. Eidee Man says:
    March 22nd, 2008 3:32 pm

    Interesting…did not realize that some of us were actually against flying kites!

    I’ve heard the “religious” argument before; however, not for basant but for things like Valentine’s day. Saying that you find it stupid, a waste of time, or a marketing gimmick, is okay, but saying that it is somehow a celebration of kufr, is just bizarre. I wonder if the same wahabis who commemorate the supreme tragedy of karbala by celebrating were the ones to come up with this….hypocritical, but that wouldn’t be a surprise now, would it?

  15. Rabia says:
    March 22nd, 2008 4:55 pm

    Whether we agree or disagree to such celebrations, people don’t have much choice when it comes to have fun. Nothing is wrong with basant festival as long as we are sensibly organizing it and taking precautionary measures to avoid any mishaps. Taking it to extremes is a personal choice, not the fault of basant. If I drive recklessly or hit someone, the car/road is not whispering into my ears to do that, it’s totally my fault.

    It’s a colorful and vibrant festival that speaks of life and energy. Culturally speaking, it exudes Lahori spirit which we should be proud of. I am!

  16. mudassar nazr says:
    March 22nd, 2008 8:48 pm

    It makes me really wonder that some people can have such a uni-dimensional personality. Why is it that everything in Pakistan is looked from just one lens? Keep wallowing in your paranoia that the whole world is in a conspiracy against you and your religion, and sure enough, you won’t be able to see anything else. God save Pakistan!

  17. Tina says:
    March 24th, 2008 6:34 pm

    I thought it was a great and well balanced article, but I wonder if it might not be possible to have the kite flying held outside the city limits, i.e. in the fields so as to reduce the risk to innocent bystanders. Every year brings pictures of unfortunates who have been slashed by the kite string, usually while driving motorbikes.

    Thanks Shiraz for the post.

  18. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    March 24th, 2008 7:00 pm

    You have indeed ‘pinched’ my view, I had always held
    this idea of permiting them in the outskirts of the city,
    again this time, I heard, two children gave their
    precious lives, victim of this sheer cultural
    Ghundagardi of the Lahoris.
    Ideal sports for Politicians, just to get rid of them.

  19. Concern Pakistani says:
    April 21st, 2008 4:30 pm

    This is not a Pakistani culture, it has come from Sikhs. Why are we not following our culture?

    Concern Pakistani

  20. April 25th, 2008 3:01 am

    Basant is a hindu festival.We as Muslims should not stray from our cultural and religious values.

  21. ali says:
    December 30th, 2008 2:39 am

    yarr what about basant of 2009 is it possible can any friend tell me i wanna to come pakistan ……………
    such a great festival

  22. Hammad says:
    January 27th, 2009 5:46 am

    Dear Colleagues,

    Let’s not guage every aspect from the religious angle —- our religion is far more bigger than this unnecessary debate !!!

    The society is getting bifurcated on the basis of rich and poor , basant being one of the only few festivals where this society bifurcation was bridged out, every one had a chance to enjoy but hats off to our religious brothers and sisters we are again being deprived of these festivals only and only on the basis of the declaration of basant being UNISLAMIC — come on basant has nothing to do with religion and religions has nothing to do with basant

  23. Ali says:
    March 11th, 2009 5:07 am

    I have heard basant in punjab is on this weekend as it was in the news at around 1 am yesterday so according to the news basant is on 15-March-2009

  24. ali says:
    March 11th, 2009 5:22 am

    Governor Punjab 14th and 15th march agree by celebrating Basant Festival

    Lahore: Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer green Signal of basant festival Lahore 14th and 15th March after meet Kite-Flying Association (KFA) dedication with Pakistan People Party (PPP) Lahore Sadar Chaudhary Azhar at 8 club road in camp office. Salman Taseer said basant historical festival of Punjab specially Lahore festival. His continue the basant festival enjoyment of the peoples of the Lahore and Punjab.

  25. malik says:
    October 12th, 2009 11:10 am

    salaam my friend.yaar mein rawalpindi pindi se hoon,mera naam sadat hai or aap ki site bohat achi laghi.mein bi patang baazi ka bohat shoq rakta hoon or ab to aap ko mahloom hi hai ke patang baazi pehle jaissi nahi rahi bar haal mujhe achi dor chahiye thi or patang bi kya aap meri help kar sakte ho?mera email adress hai ( aap ki pics pe kohi doctor sahib hain yeh mahloom hota hai ke patang baazi ke bohat shokeen hain.thanks khuda hafeez

  26. Awais Ahmed says:
    October 31st, 2009 12:14 am

    Every Body Must Read and Spread!Plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    Its Awais
    Maain apko Rawalpindi mei Basant aur Kite Flying K Baray mein btana chata ho.
    Rawalpindi mein Patang Bazi Ka Sirf Aik hi Store hai jahan se sb hridtey hain
    Woh hain “Puran Qila” Banni Chowk sse zra sa agye
    Main bhi wahan se ptang bazi ka samaan khridta ho rozana tkriban hazaroon ka kmatey hai
    Aj kal chonkke ptang bazi per pabandi hai is lia Police ko order hai k wo Ptang bazi ka samaan band krwa day
    Lakin yeh salay Qillay walon k sath milley huay hain
    Jab Qillay per rush bht ziada hota hai tou Qillay Waley(Kite Seller) Police ko Telephone krte hain Police 2, 3 Car lay kr ati hai aur phir sab bacho ko aik mein dalti hai aur aik main Ptang bazi ka saman aur sath hi bchon ko dikhaney k lia unka aik banda bhi lay jati hai aur Phir Police Station ja Kr Har bachey k walidain se tkriban Rs.5,000-Rs10,000 lati hai aur phir bchon ko chor deti hai.Phir Qillay ke bandon se Rs.40,000 leti hai(sirf dekaney k lia)
    Raat ko phir sara maal wapis kr deti hai aur adha rakh leti hai us adhe ko Garmion k season mein sell kr deti hai.
    Ptang bazi per pabandi ki wajah se Police ko double munafa horahah hai aik Hakomaty se Payment leti hai aur dosra Ptng bazon se
    Is lia meri ap sb se drkhwast hai k ap Jahan per bhi “Kite” k naam se koi chiiz dekhien tou wahan per yeh Comment Paste zroor krein takey Hakomat is K khilaaf action lay. with subject “Kite”
    Aur mere lehhaz se Lahore ke elawa baqi sheron mein Ptang bazi honi chaiye khas tor per Rawalpindi meoi Kio k yahan teeize dor ka istimaal nai hota
    Maain yeh nai kehta k Lahore main Basant naai honi chaieye Purey Pakistan main honnio chiye lakin Chand shrait k sath takey.
    Tak kay yeh Ptang Bazi ka tehwaar aik Khushi ka zria hi rahay na k Qatal-o-Gharatka zria
    Reply me

  27. khadijabibi says:
    October 31st, 2009 5:49 pm

    Basant n patang both are hindu terminology hence it would be an act of kufr to fly kites.

    The spring festival of Basant has once again come under a cloud with the Pakistan Supreme Court disallowing kite flying, an integral part of the celebration, on grounds of safety.

    The Supreme Court Monday rejected a Punjab government plea seeking permission for kite flying in the province, taking a dim view of announcements and preparations made despite the ban.

    Above is a kafer practice, hence Haram.

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