In Guyana, we fly kites at Easter and that is the ONLY time you will see folks flying kites.
When I was growing up, Easter was a very special time for us in Guyana. On Easter Sunday, many families went to church and afterward, they took to the fields, sea-wall, or any other wide open space to fly their kites.
The day after Easter is called Easter Monday; it is a National holiday and the entire country, regardless of religion, celebrate this holiday with kite-flying, picnics, dancing, boat races, carnival type events, etc. On Easter Monday, the sky is dotted with hundreds and hundreds of colorful, singing kites. Often, families spent the entire day out enjoying the festivities.
For many Guyanese, the kite making activity began weeks before Easter. My brothers and my father worked tirelessly on making the finest kites for us. They made the kites from wooden frames which had to be the perfect weight. If the frame was too heavy, the kite didn’t “go up”. They used brown paper (the paper we use in the US to wrap packages for mailing comes to mind) to cover the frame and then decorated this brown paper with colored tissue paper cut into fancy designs. Many people also made the entire kite from colored tissue paper.
I recall that the tail of the kite and the flap, or “bull” at the top were the most important parts. The tail was made out of thin rope and decorated with pieces of colored cloth. If the tail was too heavy, the kite struggled to go up. If it was too long, the kite stayed in one place in the sky. If it was too short, it moved about in a rather feisty manner (zigzag). You had to get the tail just right! The flap was the thing that made the kite “buzz or sing” in the wind. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the flap.
How did my brothers and father glue the paper to the kite’s frame? They used a simple paste made from water and flour. They also used a type of cherry called “gamma cherry”. This inedible cherry was nature’s glue.
Our kites also had frills/fringes on the side made of thin strips of tissue paper. These frills added beauty and color!
As I write this post, I can see myself standing in the cemetery, holding a kite about 30 feet away from my brother who held the ball of polythene string in his hand. I have the kite close to my chest and at his call, I raise it over my head and let it go. He takes off running, letting out the string at the same time to allow my kite to “raise”. I then run after him and he gives me the string to hold. I feel the tug of the string as the wind pulls on my kite. I watch my kite dancing in the sky, singing and buzzing in the afternoon breeze and my heart swells with happiness because I have the perfect kite.
Note: We often flew our kites in the cemetery because there were no electric wires there.
For Guyanese, kite flying symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
Photo Credit: Google images