BAPU: Should we reel in our ugly kite, or cut it? It’s probably against the rules here to cut the string, it would disrupt all those other pretty store-bought kites. It is your decision, what do you want to do? Come now, Shivratri. We’re not dainty little decorative kites, you and me. We are fighting kites. What do you say?
The fighting kite serves as a touchstone image for Shiv’s journey throughout the play. Kite battles are a popular sport across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, as well as areas of Brazil, Vietnam, and Korea. Made of lightweight paper, their strings are coated with a paste of rice flour and ground glass, making them sharp enough to damage and fell competitors’ kites.
Check out the images of kites and kite festivals, below, as well as a great documentary short from the NYT about the migration of the fighting kite to America.