The Punjab government recently announced that the Basant festival is to be shifted to the Changa Manga forest outside of Lahore and a formal notification has already been issued to this effect. Authorities have also directed not to allow kite flying activities in the city and also warned of strict action to be taken against defying culprits.
Muslim League (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz had hinted at the lifting of the ban on Basant during the inauguration of Punjab Youth Festival last month, but it appears that this will not be.
The ban comes from fatal accidents linked to the glass encrusted thread used for flying kites with people reported to have been killed as the air-borne thread grotesquely wrapped around their throats, aerial firing and, children toppling off rooftops in their excitement.
As reported earlier, the grand festival which heralded the arrival of spring was a major Lahore happening. That it is not to be celebrated any more in the city proper, will lose see the huge influx of visitors both from within the country and overseas.
With Basant now blighted, the government has offered to host other festivals such as the ongoing Punjab Youth Festival, but they are unlikely to have the same draw as the Basant celebrations which engaged a huge cross-section of Lahore society. The inherent dangers of glass-encrusted strings notwithstanding, Lahore will simply not be Lahore without the kite flying spring festival.