Basant should not be banned “Depriving us from celebrating Basant is tantamount to depriving us of our fundamental rights,” Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said. The ban on Basant festival should be removed because of its various importances. Basant in not only celebrated from a long time and considered to be a part of our culture but also it is a way of attracting tourists and sources of revenue. Other than this the ban itself imposed on it is not fully justified. Imposition of ban itself is not fully hundred percent justified because of the interest of politicians. The current ban on Basant, the world famous kite-flying festival of Lahore, appears to be more an outcome of political tussle between two political forces of the country than anything else ( Qadeer 7). ” The ban on Basant is not an outcome of pure decision making based on its pros and cons. Instead the decision of banning has some political influence attached to it. This intervention then questions the creditability of the ban. Basant marks the arrival of spring and bring happiness along with it.
Basant should be allowed to celebrate as it has now become a part of our people’s culture, heritage and lifestyle and nobody has a right to ban them. Basant is deeply rooted in people’s psyche and lifestyle. Most the public are not only against the ban on Basant but also are offended by this government decision. Mian Ejaz, acting district coordination officer during the DCO’s absence said, “Basant should not be banned because it attracts people from all over the world and is a cultural event. ” He lamented about grave problems caused by Basant but said that the public was unwilling to support a ban (Ali 7).
Basant has been in our tradition from a long time and has become a custom and very important part of our lives. But there are some people especially religious ones who raise the point of Basant being a Hindu festival and demand a ban on it. Actually this is not the case; this is just wrong accusation made by these people to show their importance in the community. The Hindu festival which these people refer is Vasant Panchami which is also called Basant. “Vasant Panchami is the Hindu festival that highlights the advent of spring. It is a Hindu festival celebrating the glory of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art.
In India particularly Indian Bengal, during this festival children are taught to write their first words; Brahmins are fed; ancestors worship (Pitr-tarpan) is performed; the god of love Kamadeva is worshipped ( Mahmood). ” The festival Hindu celebrates only limits to worshipping, wearing same color clothes and meeting each other. There is no sign of kite flying in their festival. So our tradition is different from theirs. This means that to say this festival is un-Islamic is a wrong statement. Basant is a huge and a big festival which is recognized all over the world.
It is a sport which mainly exists in Pakistan but is well known to all the rest of the world. It is a colorful festival consisting not only of kite flying but also of music. People gather together to enjoy and celebrate the arrival of spring. Basant is also a way of attracting tourists not only national but also international. According to the newspaper reporter, Yasir Qadeer, “It attracts tourists, not just locally but from all over the world (7). ”Because of the uniqueness of Basant, people from around the world visits Pakistan to participate in the event.
According to Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab, the Basant Kite Festival, held in Lahore, has become such a major tourist attraction that people flock from countries worldwide to participate in this unique occasion. The increase in tourism due to Basant in turn boosts the economy of Pakistan. It provides different sources of income to the country; through hotels, restaurant and others ways. Another reason why Basant should not be banned is the amount of revenue generated from it is enormous. There are several ways in which revenue is generated during the Basant. Thousands of people travel and visit Pakistan to join in the festival.
The revenue from the hotels greatly increases during Basant because of the increased tourists. Kite flying is not the only way of generating revenue. During the festival a lot of events take place such as musical events and food streets are jammed packed with people. “The intense economic activity that went with Basant (trade, travel, hotel, tourism, shopping, etc. ) was touching the $ 250 million mark — not bad, for a week-long celebration. To top it off various other quality festivals started around the Basant bonanza (notably the music conference and the international drama and puppet festival) (Mirza 3). However, there is some opposition and criticism about the Basant being not profitable, rather resulting in losses due to damages done on the electric wires and poles. According to Ali Pervaiz, a newspaper reporter, “Basant also faced opposition from Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and its distribution companies mainly the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) and Gujranwala Electric Power Company (GEPCO) as kite flying also resulted in frequent power tripping besides damaging the sensitive installations of WAPDA and its companies. The main cause of this power failure is the use of metallic or chemical-coated string. These strings, when comes contact with electric wires causes the wire to tear and power tripping. But this is a problem which can be easily resolved. By introducing and properly implementing a law which impose a ban on the use of such types of strings can result in overcoming this power failure and claims made by these companies. Kite flying business is a very large one. The industry related to it is very large with a very large market.
About a week or two before the Basant, shopkeeper starts to make preparations of selling kites and strings. Huge numbers of shops are set up and people invest millions of rupees in the trade. Many people are employed in the factories in which kites and strings are made. “String and kite makers are working overtime on roadsides and in small factories in places like Shahdara, Murdike, Baghbanpura, Ichhra and Shadbagh. Kite making has become a sort of cottage industry involving even women and children the year round (Hanif). So if Basant is banned, thousands of workers will get unemployed. There would be no source of income for such families and they would be in a very bad condition. For example, during the Basant the owners of the previously abandoned and dilapidated houses in Gowalmandi’s food street become rich overnight as many multi-national companies hustle to rent their rooftops for the occasion. The ban on Basant would affect them along with other in the kite flying business very roughly. The main incidents that lead to the ban on Basant were the use of the metallic and chemical-coated strings.
Basant was officially banned in 2005 when a great deal of people in various cities including Rawalpindi lost their lives due to metallic or chemical-coated string that can even cut instantly through the flesh like a sharp-edged weapon. Main issue regarding the ban was the damages that these razor-sharp strings caused. Many people lost lives by getting their neck cut by strings while driving motorcycles or walking. But banning is not the solution. Government should restrict the use of these types of strings.
Also during these two days of kite flying, government should set a curfew on the people walking and driving motorcycles because most of the accidents happen to them. The government should alternatively provide free public bus transport during these days to accommodate people who want to travel. In conclusion, Basant should not be banned as it creates revenue for a country and most importantly is a part of our culture. To ban Basant is just like erasing an integral part our culture which is unacceptable. Yes, there have been many unfortunate incidents in the recent past but banning Basant because of them is not the solution.
For example, no government has banned flying of aircraft because some planes have crashed in the long history. They rather focused on making flying a safer experience. Likewise, the government should focus on making this festival safer by reducing loss to life and property to minimum and nil if possible. Designated grounds should have been prepared for flying kites and citizens who wish to participate in the activity should have been facilitated to do so in safety in these designated areas. “Banning a festival which was like the smile of a child in spirit is too harsh a step——akin to rendering the city soulless” (Qadeer 7).