Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival dedicated to the deity Surya(sun). It is celebrated on 14th January every year. It is a day the people of India and Nepal celebrate their harvest. It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara Rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
The festival is observed by flying kites in various parts of the country. But every year, news about deaths or injuries due to kites’ Manja surface in the newspaper. But the situation has become despair now because some section of people doesn’t understand how perilous it is and it should be stopped.
Manja is a synthetic kite string coated with powdered glass, which has become a huge problem in society during the festival. The Chinese Manja (albeit locally made) has created a massive mess. In the zeal to cut other kites, the manufacturers have sharpened the Manjas to increase their sales. But instead of cutting other kites, it is slitting peoples’ throats. Even the glass-coated cotton manjas aren’t safe, and they too have caused casualties.
The Manja is very dangerous for the birds in the say. In the year 2019 during the time of Makar Sankranti, an estimate cited by the Animal Welfare Board of India said that at least 2,000 birds are injured at the annual kite flying event in Ahmedabad of which 500 eventually died.
Taking these into consideration, in July 2017, the National Green Tribunal banned synthetic Manja in India. It commanded the authorities to book violators not only under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code but also invoke the Environment (Protection) Act, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and Wildlife (Protection) Act as the case would warrant. Multiple State governments have banned the Manja.
Festivals are about sharing love and bonding over Kaju katli, it should not be about causing harm to- humans and non-human animals. So, this Makar Sankranti doesn’t fly kites with glass-coated manja, instead, give your dreams and passions a flight.
Happy Makar Sankranti, you all.