Basant: Only festival where people come together

by Sher Ali Khan and Aoun Sahi

The News on Sunday: How can we make basant safe?

Yousuf Salahuddin: To start with, you have to ban motorcycles from Saturday night to Sunday evening because a majority of accidental deaths have been of motorcyclists.

Secondly, there are two companies manufacturing these dangerous strings. The issue is not kite-flying or celebrating the festival; it’s about the deadly string. Children are buying these strings regardless of the danger these put their lives in. So, the manufacturers should be held accountable.

Thirdly, aerial firing has to be stopped. This was done during Shabhaz Sharif’s last term. If he gives the stick to the police, this can be regulated.

TNS: What does basant mean for Pakistan and Lahore?

YS: For Lahore, basant means an amazing boost to the economy and the placing of Lahore onto the cultural map of the world. India has been trying to copy basant for years. The truth is that basant is in the blood of every Lahori. This is one festival where the rich and the poor interact. They do not interact even on eid. The elite class offers eid prayers at FC College or Aitchison College mosque while the general population goes to other mosques. Basant is the only festival which the rich and poor celebrate together.

This is a festival of the poor. Look at how much misery we are going through; drugs are common; children are being picked up from streets; law and order is non-existent. In this scenario, mothers feel safe when their children stay at home. Flying kites at least keeps them in the house. Most of all basant does not cost anyone anything. Even if you don’t fly kites, the enjoyment in just being part of the fun on the rooftops is simply amazing. It is this beauty that we can sell to the world.

TNS: How can basant benefit the economy of Lahore and Pakistan?

YS: It’s actually costing the government nothing and the government can make money. The Punjab government should be announcing basant a year in advance so that people all over the world can make plans. The ban on basant is a great cultural loss for Lahore and Pakistan. Basant is the best event to show to the world the real face of Pakistan. The Punjab government, the federal government and the inept Tourism Department need to stop wasting public money and invest in preparations for a proper basant.

The Punjab government would have to, in its first year, invite hundred journalists from different parts of the world. They should organise a basant for them. If we plan it carefully it will become the Mardi Gras of Pakistan. If the government helps plan it, I can easily get people like Madonna and all the top stars. Imagine Madonna coming to Pakistan for basant. This will attract major media coverage around the world.

The things we can sell from Pakistan are basant and Sufi music. Any foreigner that will visit Pakistan during these two days will go back saluting Pakistan.

TNS: Where did you get the idea of promoting basant?

YS: For me the idea of a properly organised basant festival came when the Duke of Somerset and his wife came for basant at my place once. Prior to that, I would never have a big basant; it was a day usually enjoyed with my family. I started celebrating it on a relatively larger scale and started inviting friends from Pakistan and abroad after their visit.

TNS: Basant is also termed as an anti-Islamic or Hindu event. How do you respond to this criticism

YS: Let us admit the fact that we were all Hindus several generations ago and that the people became Muslims through the ways of the Sufis and that’s how Islam came to the subcontinent. When our ancestors converted to Islam, the things that were not clashing with the basic principles of Islam were retained. If anyone insists that the wahabi practices which are practiced in Saudi Arabia should be implemented then that’s not going to happen. Allama Iqbal used to celebrate basant.

Published in the News on Sunday: Shehr Section

16 responses to “Basant: Only festival where people come together

  1. the Rich has the right to celebrate in their Land Cruisers and the poor don’t have the right to celebrate on their bikes? this is the worst possible example you could give of celebrating Basant together, basant isn’t about kite flying its about Celebrating and the marking of spring season…we should celebrate all natural season and national occasions and name them some thing, Basant isnt something that has more important than the independence day or is it?
    We need to celebrate 14th of August instead of Basant that forcefully and merrily because that’s how the rich and poor started living togather the same city in the first place…since we made a country i think its about time we start thinking more creatively in how to celebrate Basant in a more creative and best possible way….steering a kite made out of chemical isnt the end of the world.

  2. “India is trying to copy basant for years but are not able to ”
    I mean YS uses the above negative or comparative sentence to reinforce & legitimise the festival.

    Grow up pakistanis…..& leave us alone

  3. Hilarious point is “YS” is promising Madonna on basant, if i remember correctly last year u guys attempted marathon on some occasion but were not allowed by islamist protestors…haha

    Madonna voilates the basic tenets of islam YS…

  4. you could see the mentality from that far sooraj?

  5. We have been plunged into hating each other by our religious pundits, elites and leaders on both side… getting things done by clashing Hindu Muslim interest is the oldest trick in the book

  6. Sear sir,
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  7. For those of you who dont know sadly including YS, is that Basant is from the sufi tradition of Nizamuddin Aulia and Ameer Khusro. It was them who first celebrated their friendship with the people, and later it became a festival. As far as the above fundo comments are concerned, I think we should all stop playing cricket as well as it is a colonial legacy, infact we should stop doing anything that has any room for enjoyment and start living in a cave, and eat khajoors and drink camel milk only as i believe that is all we think is ISLAMIC?

  8. I want to open a small business but i didn’t found a support! so can someone give an advise 🙂

  9. Well said, Sadaf. Didn’t know that it was a friendship festival though Basant has always bought friends and family together.

    YS comments on rich and poor together on basant is nonsenical. As in the rich are safer celebrating basant because they drive cars whereas the poor are not because they use cycles and motorbikes. Poor children running after kites they cant afford are the ones who fall off roofs; not the rich ones who can afford to buy theirs in a shop.

    Regardless, I don’t condemn the festival – but I don’t agree safety on Basant should be ignored. If we can’t control safety issues for all classes of people, then banning Basant is better on our national conscience.

    YS seems to be arguing on the moral issues on Basant – ok which is fine; but how about some ideas/solutions on how to make basant safer. Celebrate in larger areas? Confine to national parks? Confine it to open fields. Surely, perhaps we would have more fun, less deaths and less moral qualms if we brainstormed for safety.

  10. Mao!!!
    you spoke my mind! well said

  11. I completely agree Mao!, for every game in the world there are safety regulations, and we should also reinforce security measures if we are too enjoy this festivals, open spaces is a good idea about 15 to 2o years ago people use to gather in manto park to celebrate basant. I think it can be done again if the city management cooperates

  12. How much innocent blood will be shed for the fun of few rich? Its banned on court orders…we are no one to decide if its right or wrong the decision was made in keeping view of the benefit of majority of people and what was necessary…there were chances given to the general public of flying kite without using banned materials but our public only understands the hard way, its a part of our culture! which im certainly not proud of.

  13. HUM BASANT KO BOHAT MISS KAR RAHEY HAIN 😦 ager kise k pass koi news hai tu tell me plzzzzz …..

  14. Hi All,
    Does anyone has clue when BASANT will be celebrated this year 2011 in Lahore?

  15. well i am lubna kaleem and i live in lahore well i have rights but not only me all the people who live in lahore have rights to celebrate this beautiful day but due to some people this day have been banned and i really request our presedent asif ali zardari and yousaf raza gillani and also miyan shahbaz shariff to give permission to us to celebrate this day we who love to celebrate basant will be very happy and greatful if they give us permission to celebrate basant only for 1 day

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