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Basant: is it really necessary?

High up in the sky are floating a wide variety of colors - the softest pastels and the brightest ambers, the coolest blues, the delicate pinks and the deepest reds and crimsons all adorn the sky with their different hues. The sky looks like the azure surface of a lake scattered with the colorful petals of various flowers. Kites in the distant horizon resembles to the many colors lying around on a palette, painting a breath-taking scenery on the large canvass of the sky. The whole scene creates a very peaceful and soothing affect, satisfying to the heart, pleasing to the eyes, filling to the ears and gratifying to the mind.

Alas! what a contrasting picture down here. The bulk of population has gathered up on the roof tops, screaming at the top of their voices. loud music, fireworks, hoarse beating of the drums, ear-splitting honking of the horns all nullifies the calm of the above-mentioned images. A frenzied atmosphere coupled with all the din and hullabaloo resembles to some savage African tribe indulged in their wild sports (like hunting), loud shrieks and cries, blaring of loud-speakers, blasting sounds coming from all sides portrays the scene of a war-affected country (which is being heavily shelled and bombarded by the enemy forces). So looks the face of earth, on the Basant day. And this brings us to the heart of the matter, i.e., to the ill-affects of the Basant.

 The whole country (especially the Zinda Dilan-e-Lahore) is in the tight grips of the Basant fever. One glance at the sky would be enough to tell us that the warming-up has already begun and the 'junoon' is sure to increase in leaps and bounds till the arrival of the B-Day. The chilly, wet or foggy weather will not be able to damper the rising spirits of all the kite-flyers. The 'celebrations' have started well before the event and the trend (as we all know) of the stock market is bullish.

No, I will not overlook the other and good side of the coin (no matter how hard I'll have to look for that) one of which has been tried to capture in the beginning, a little bit poetically perhaps. The other 'good' thing of this colour festival is that it involves hoards of people who enjoy and have fun all at the same time and on the same day so this common jubilations ties (the otherwise diversified people) in the bond of unity. Basant (the king of all festivals, the national/regional sport in some countries) is said to be the only 'secular' festival of our country moreover it is one of those very few occasions when social inferiority lays no embargo on the mood of festivity and happiness. So when the (filthy) rich indulge themselves in vulgar display of their ill-gotten riches, the poor can join the bandwagon by whoops and cries of joy to match their cacophony. Besides, many can join in without spending a penny; either by simply watching the game or by catching the stray kites.

But there are so many inconveniences attached with the basant day that it almost becomes a nuisance. Now, I'm not against kite-flying, in fact it is a very nice pastime but the real problem starts when this nice activity turns into an obsession - when the kite-flyers go frantic and wild and cross all limits of decency and sobriety. When the simple affair of kite flying takes the shape of a war-like situation, it is then that basant becomes the most graceless and disorganized festival of all. To rationalize the Basant madness is to rationalize the greed of the Pakistani politicians, both have no logical base of their existence.

They - the Basant lovers (Basantees or Basanters) - say that Basant is an event to celebrate the arrival of spring, oh but what a crude way to welcome the sweet and delicate little buds! I'm sure that if these tongue-less trees and plants are given the power of speaking they would sing anti-Basant carols in chorous. Well! what else can we expect, when they've to bear the ills of 'their' festival. Their branches are used to capture stray kites, the string (door) of different kites got entangled in their new and soft branches and many torn-off kites keep hanging on to them (for many days after the Basant) trying to rob their natural beauty.

The other argument that is given in favor of celebrating Basant is that it is a part of our heritage and culture. Though there is no denying the fact that kite-flying has its roots in the 19th century Subcontinent. But this does not give it the credit of being the right thing. Unfortunately there are a number of rather 'strange' customs which have become the part of our culture, the example of which can be seen in our marriage ceremonies, the practice of dowry giving, etc., so we've to face the fact that all parts of our culture may not necessarily be right. Besides if something bad keeps happening for a long time it'll still remain wrong and the mere passage of time will not affect or alter its status as being right.

In the case of Basant it is not only 'what' we're celebrating but 'how'? While the first part of the question (what) is also a debatable issue but it is the later part (how) that is more annoying. Literally millions of rupees are being wasted annually over a variety of kites plus accessories or rather over the worthless colored pieces of paper, and the rest of the year is spent by complaining over the high prices of petrol, etc!

Many precious lives are put at stake, falling over from the rooftops, road accidents, getting electrocuted, getting hit by a stray bullet (or intentionally), scuffles, fights use of filthy, abusive lingo etc., all are the tragic and dark side of the picture. The practice of using metal wires with the string is wide spreading which apart from endangering the kite-flyer's life (and other parts of body about which he doesn't seem to care much) puts the entire area's electricity supply system at great risks. Who can forget in the past  burning up an entire grid station simply because of a cut kite (with metal wires) which resulted in complete 24 hour's electricity supply suspension and about 5 crore rupees, wastage! (though the incident didn't occur on Basant but it was caused by a kite).

The hide and seek played by electricity is one of the biggest drawbacks of Basant and it becomes unbearable for me (and the rest of 'anti' and 'against' types) because we're forced to listen to the shore-o-gul (noise pollution) created by the basanters. Your cable wallah doesn't want to take risk with his expensive equipment so he simply takes a day off, leaving you to deal with the basant blues all by yourself. No corner of your house provides refuge from the shrieks and shouts of the wild mob which start testing your limits of patience the night before the big event. The high-sounding music played tastelessly along with the rest of the outcry looks to it that you don't get a moment's rest.

On the basant day the mania reaches to its heights. This is the day when caution is put on coals, gentlemanly conduct is set to flight along with the kites, the idea of civility or decency is completely forgotten and the beastly side of the human nature reigns. The 'yahoo' nature dominates with the wild shouts of bo-katta, hooting down of rivals or boosting up of the spirits of the kite flyers, so fanatically is pursued ;the practice of flying kites. Amid this whole ghul-ghuparra, we the so-called 'spoilsports' are treated very callously, our rights are violated as we're made to witness their idiosyncrasy.

In conclusion I'd like to say that fly kites, owls, bats, or any other species of birds but try not to cross the limits. Remember, that being the citizens of a democratic country we are supposed to respect each other's rights and most importantly we ought to spend our savings in more constructive manners. Can we really afford to indulge in such luxurious activities and can we not, for once, prove that we can enjoy ourselves in an organized and decent way? Let us celebrate the arrival of spring in a more peaceful, noiseless and dignified manner, this time.