A group of young boys who had a common interest- kite flying, enjoyed their Sundays on the beaches of Mangalore flying kites. One of them spoke out about the need to take the sport seriously and let people know about kites and make them appreciate it; others joined hands and the rest is history.
These young men had no inkling of the fame that their passion for kites was to gift them. With humble intentions and dedication they successfully made the small port city of Mangaluru a part of the Limca book of world records when they flew a 36-feet long mesmerizing kite representing the dance form of Kerala- ‘Kathakali’.
As Kathakali soared high in the skies in 2005, it broke the record for the Largest Kite in India and Team Mangalore, the prized possession of Mangaluru studded a jewel on the crown of the coastal city.
With the motto of "Spreading happiness through kites", Team Mangalore was born in 1996.
“One of the group members Giridhar Kamath came to me one day and said that we should take kite flying to another level because it was more to us than a hobby. Since then there has been no looking back,” recalls Team Mangalore Founder B Sarvesh Rao as he narrates the team’s journey to Karnataka Today.
A slice of India in every kite!
“We fly kites not to compete. We make kites purely for the love of art and culture. We want people all over the world to know our culture. Yakshagana (popular folk dance of South Karnataka), Kathakali, Bharathanatyam, Bhoota Kola (folk ritual of coastal Karnataka) - all of these kites speak volumes of where we come from.
These kites are the reason that we have been invited by several countries to display our culture amidst theirs”, Mr Sarvesh says as he beams with pride recalling an incident when a foreigner came and told the team that when they see Team Mangalore's kite flying high in the sky, they instantly know that an Indian is standing out there and flying magnificently. "That was our intention. Bring our culture to the world”, Mr Sarvesh adds.
And the world did make note of this team from the small city in the south of India! Team Mangalore was invited to represent India at the Dieppe International Kite Festival, France six times since its first venture. It was also invited to display its best work at the Uiseong International Kite Festival held at Uiseong, South Korea, the 11th Thailand International Kite Festival at Rama VI camp, cha-am, Petchburi, Thailand and several International Kite Festivals held at Baroda, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Surat, Silvasa and Hyderabad, India.
The Making of 'Magnum Opus'
The magnificent sites of Kathakali, Yakshagana, Bharatanatyam, Durga, Gajendra, Bhoota Kola and several other kites conquering the sky and flying with utmost grace will ensure pure amazement on the faces of those who witness them and have them wonder as to how they create such masterpieces.
An artist par excellence, Mr Dinesh Holla is a man of few words and lots of action. He is responsible for putting on paper, the design and art work, the colours of every kite at the initial "idea" stage. It is his art work which gets translated into a kite using appropriate materials.
“India is filled with so many cultural artifacts that it stands out among other countries. We will never run out of designs because we are born with so much of art and culture in us. So when it comes to a kite, we think about what will represent India in the best manner”, says Mr Holla while speaking about the prerequisites of designing a kite.
“Once we think of about what we want to make, I make an outline of the piece on a sheet with specific points where the sticks will be attached, where the thread will be fixed etc. It took us around a month and a half to make ‘Kathakali’ and people often ask us why we took so much of time. Well, one needs to understand that it is a three step process to making a kite- cutting, pasting and stitching. And all of it is not as easy as it seems”, he said and added that once the design is ready the stitching is carried out by the other members of the team.
Even the most intricate designs that are seen on the kite are made of a rare type of cloth and have to be cut and stitched on both the sides. It is made of 'rip-stop nylon'- the material which is used in making parachutes and is not available in India and bamboo (for spars) without using paint. The entire kite is intricately stitched using appropriate colored cloth. “It took 530 man hours to make Kathakali”, he fondly remembers.
The making process also includes technical aspects for which they have K. Prashanth Kumar, an employee of ONGC-MRPL whose mechanical engineering background makes him instrumental in providing the technical know-how of all the kites made by the Team and V.K.Sanil, an employee of KIOCL who helps at every stage of kite making/flying with dedication.
The strong team which has grown over the years consists of people from various walks of life. Their individual strengths clubbed with their common passion for kites is the reason that the team believes they have reached so far.
The members of the team include Giridhar Kamath, the Chief Advisor of the Team who is involved in social work and NGO activities; Girish Venkatraman, a surveyor by profession and a multi-talented personality; Nitin J. Shetty, who is a Chartered Accountant by profession and is the also the Chief Advisor of the Team and takes care of the Public Relations aspect of the Team; Subhaschandra Pai T, a chartered accountant working in the Finance Department of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited he also handles public relations for the team; Gurudath Bantwalkar and Shashank S.Shetty who handle media interaction and publicity along with Artist and animation expert Satish Rao and entrepreneur Janardhan Rao.
Accolades pour, but no pat on back from govt!
While the team has travelled the world after having been invited to represent the nation, it is rather unfortunate that they haven’t received the support they deserve from their own people.
“We represent India wherever we go but till today, despite having sent them memorandums, our own government has not extended any help- financial or otherwise”, said Mr Holla adding that when other countries invite them, they take care of everything because they respect the art they bring. But it seems like our own state and central government is least bothered.
Adding to this, Mr Sarvesh spoke with reference to the International Kite Festival that will be held in Mangalore in the coming days and said, “It’s been 4 years since we have been conducting this international event. This is our sixth event. We want to hold it every year as in other countries but we are not able to find any sponsors to do so. The tourism department does not give proper accounts of where the money they allot is actually going.”
“Gujarat has an annual event and kite festival which is held on a grand scale inviting countries from all over. We want to do the same here. We have natures gift in our beautiful beaches and wonderful breeze to facilitate a kite flying event. But we are not able to do so because when we knock on the doors of our government we receive no response. Hence, we go to private investors because this event is special to us and to people from other countries who love coming to Mangalore and displaying their kites”, he added.
Fete back in Mangaluru
Amidst the communal tensions and so called intolerance that is gripping the nation, Team Mangaluru brings to you Rotary International Kite Festival 2016, a spectacle that one must witness as people from around 15 countries make Mangaluru their home for two days and do the thing they love most.
Speaking about the festival, Mr Sarvesh said that the event involves everyone from small children to senior citizens coming out there, forgetting the divides of religion and all else to enjoy the feeling of flying kites.
Erasing all borders and uniting people, the event to be held on January 16 and 17, calls out to everyone to relive your days of yore that bring a smile to your face and throw your worries away and go fly high in Namma Kudla Style!