It's not every day that one gets to see Home Minister Amit Shah standing beside Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other politicians from opposite ideologies, grinning in tandem. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with leaders such as Mamta Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray, Akhilesh Yadav and others can also be seen sharing space inside the workshop of 70-year-old artist Abdul Gafoor situated in the walled city of Jaipur.
With Makarsankranti just a few days away, Gafoor, sitting inside an 8x6-foot room of his house (workshop), is busy giving last-minute touches to the life-size kites with photos of politicians from across party lines on them. "I shortlist the faces of the kites depending on the popularity of the leader or celebrity. Earlier, I used to be only restricted to state politicians but slowly I started making cut-out kites of national politicians too. This year I have added, Navjyot Singh Sidhu, Mamta Banerjee and Asaduddin Owaisi to my list,” Gafoor Ahmed, who has been making life-size kites of famous celebrities, politicians and sportsmen for the last 40 years, tells Outlook.
As one looks around, tucked inside corners are kites with the faces of actors Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal who recently got married in Rajasthan's Sawai Madhopur.
"Keeping in mind the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls, I made a cut out of Akhilesh Yadav. Similarly seeing the growing popularity of Owaisi in the Muslim community in Jaipur, I decided to make one kite with his face", added Gafoor, who takes at least four to five days to complete one kite. While Gafoor does all the work alone, sometimes his eight-year-old granddaughter Taranum accompanies him.
Pink City's iconic 'Patang Walon Ka Rasta', situated inside the walled city is abuzz ahead of the festival. Around 500 families living in this area are engaged in kite making. Besides making simple kites, in traditional Jaipur style, they also bring designs and workers from Uttar Pradesh who live here for a month and make designer kites just before the festival. Now kites from Bareily - Manjula, Pauna and Dedh Kanni were available here.
Pink City's famous Patang Walon Ka Rasta, situated inside the walled city is abuzz ahead of the festival. Around 500 families living in this area are engaged in kite making. Photo by Tabeenah Anjum. (Credit: Tabeenah Anjum/Outlook)
The shopkeepers not only sell the kites across the state but also export them to Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat. The kite shops situated in Handipura and Haldiyon Ka Raasta have witnessed a dip from the last two years. "We are witnessing a dip in the sale and it is due to the pandemic. This year Omicron scare and the curbs imposed by the state government has spoiled the festival. The livelihood of thousands of families is dependent on kite making and selling. And everyone is going through a bad phase", Noor Mohammad, a kite seller at Ramganj, told Outlook.
A Jaipuri-style kite costs around Rs 5-10, whereas the fancy ones are priced at Rs 10-50. Jaipur's kite flying has a 150-year-old history and was made popular by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, who brought the tradition from Lucknow to Jaipur. The tradition continues at the City Palace, even now. Everywhere a proper Makarsankranti is celebrated in the premises of the palace.