It is Dashain time in Nepal. In Kathmandu valley, Dashain and Changa are synonymous. The common name Changa (चंगा) for the kites flown in Kathamandu literally means to be weightless, to be free in Nepali language. People also use the word when talking about feeling very relaxed and stress-free (kasto changa feel gariraheko chhu.)
In Dashain festival:
‘Changa’ (चंगा) means nothing except kite.
‘Dhago’ (धागो) is the string that connects the kite with the ‘Lattai’, a wooden handle around which the string is rolled.
‘Lattai’ (लट्टाई) – is made of a stick around which a cylindrical groove is constructed to hold hundreds of meters of specially prepared ’Dhago’. The preparation of Dhago is an intensive process involving ‘Majha’.
‘Majha’ (माजा) is a specially prepared mix made up of glue made out of rice and powdered glass pieces. This mix is applied to the thread, Dhago, to make it sharper and stronger.
The Changa is applied with various decoration for the appearance and better manoeuvring. ‘Gwakh’ and ‘Puchchar’ are the two main things to help better maneuver the kite in the sky.
‘Gwakh’ (ग्वाँख) is a small piece of paper to be tied to the string in the kite to balance the weight on two sides of the string. When a kite is pulled against the wind, a perfectly balenced kite goes in an upward direction. If the kite’s path is not a straight path, it will probably need a Gwakh to balance.
Sometimes a ‘Puchhar’ (पुच्छर) or a tail is added to balance the kite. The tail is used both as a decoration an an aid for better flying experience. As tail adds up the weight, the fighter kites use Gwakh rather than a tail.
‘Kakkaa’ (कका) is the triangular string that connects the kite with the ‘Dhago’.
And there is a very popular term used in kite fighting – ‘Chait’
‘Chait’ (चैट) means finished – The word is cried in loudest possible voice when one kite cuts the string of another kite by its string while flying. The kite with the broken string flies away and the owner of the victorious kite and it’s supporters cry ‘Chait’.
While the escaped kite flies away, other kites and kids try to catch it by it’s string. As the string is treated with sharp ‘Majha’ a lot of kids cut their hands by the string.
That was the fun of kite flying in Kathmandu. Such tradition however is not seen in locations out of the valley.
Photo credit – glocalkhabar