Saturday 11 February, 2017

In the Name of Tradtition!

Vitamin-D-walk is my this year’s new year resolution. Feeling good that it has sustained more than a month. Walking on the terrace has its advantages—you don’t bump into people or have to worry about vehicles—but it has pitfalls, too. A few days back, something sharp grazed my left cheek. I had just begun the walk, so the pace was slow. I could stop midstride. The sharp thing turned out be a manjha, the nylon string made razor-sharp with glass powder and used for flying kites.

Makar Sankranti—the time when Mumbai skies are dotted with kites and you get astonished at kids darting through busy roads, oblivious of traffic—was two weeks ago. Eating til-gud and flying kites are all people seem to think about when it’s Makar Sankranti. That the festival’s significance is lost in these rituals is sad.

Leftover from the kite-flying ritual, the sharp manjha, is a death trap to birds, and sometimes for humans. I have seen reports of bikers’ throats getting slit by this almost-invisible string. Maharashtra government had banned its use this year. But who are we to respect bans? Our rituals are important, right?

I tried in vain to pull the cord and put it away, but it was endless. So I cut it by scraping it on the edge of the parapet and bunched it in one corner where it couldn’t obstruct anyone’s path. Had no choice but to let go of the other end.

Later, through the kitchen window, I found a pigeon swinging on a chord. Am no fan of pigeons, but the poor bird entangled in the sharp string was a gruesome sight.
Pigeon hanging on manjha

It could have been me with my carotid artery cut.

In the name of tradition!


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