By Fatima Shaheen Niazi
It’s the time of the year when the chilly winter winds slowly begin to disappear, signifying the arrival of hotter days. And its the very arrival of spring season that brings with it the much awaited basant festival.
The roots of basant lie in Hindu mythology and the festival was originally known as Makara Sankarnt. Initially, the festival was simply celebrated with great excitement and fervour to welcome the sunny summer days. Kite flying on the other hand, was added to the tradition during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule who made the activity a regular affair every basant.
The trend of wearing bright colours too was kickstarted by the Maharaja and his queen Moran who would dress in yellow during the festival.
Continuing with the age-old tradition, basant for Pakistani’s became a festival that required people to dress up in colourful outfits and fly kites. However, in 2005 a ban was imposed on kite flying since its sharp thread had caused several accidents and deaths.
But a ban on kite flying doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate basant anymore. There are numerous other ways to celebrate the festival without causing a threat to someone’s life. Here’s what you can do for basant this year. The following solutions are fun, simple and most importantly, they are safe.
- Dress to impress: Since basant is all about colours, get some nice bright coloured clothes stitched for yourself and get into the festive mood. Whether you prefer eastern wear or western wear, you can flaunt your love for basant by wearing bright shades like yellow, orange and red.
- Eat sweets: Whether it’s Eid, weddings, or birthday, in Pakistan sweets are consumed on any happy occasion you can think of. So why not make basant about sweets rather than kites? Make it a festival where people send each other lots of mithais of different colours and just eat, chat, unite and enjoy.
- Hold painting competitions: Okay, I admit, the inspiration of this idea came from how Hindus celebrate basant – by creating rangolis in their households and neighbourhoods. But the fact is, people gathering around and painting flowers and scenery is just going to brighten up the surroundings instantly. Plus point; the young ones in the house will get to partake in an interesting activity.
- Decorate your surroundings with lights and bright colours: This is something that is easy and completely in our hands. Just like we often decorate our houses on 14th August, we can do something similar for basant. All we have to do is get some coloured fairy lights and voila.
- Host an event planting trees and flowers: Since basant is all about welcoming spring and the blossoming flowers it brings with it, why not welcome it by planting more flowers in our surroundings? Not only will this benefit the city you live in but will also contribute to helping us combat the problem of climate change.
Well, there you go! These are some ideas that are fun, will unite people and will improve your surroundings at the same time. Hence, change your perspective this year and create your own history on how basant should be celebrated.