basat mela 11am to 7pm sunday - jan 29, 2006 tempe town lake - aka tempe town toilet free (480)515-2030

free hot and spicy food

Go fly a kite with Pakistanis

Aaron Royster The Arizona Republic Jan. 23, 2006 12:00 AM

You can spend all day looking to the skies for the snowflakes of winter in the Valley, but you'll probably have more success seeing kites celebrating spring.

The Pakistan Information and Cultural Organization is holding its fourth annual Basant Mela at Tempe Town Lake on Sunday.

The Basant Mela is a traditional Pakistani celebration of the onset of spring and the harvest time focused around a kite flying festival.

This is the first year the festival has been in Tempe. The organization tries to find new locations to hold the festival every year.

Javed Kaif of Scottsdale is a volunteer involved with the organization and helped organize the festival. Kaif said the festival has several activities for children.

"A lot of times you have kids who have their first experience flying kites that high," Kaif said.

The participants fly traditional Pakistani kites made of thin paper or modern kites and engage in friendly competition.

At the festival, participants try to cut down others' kites using their strings. They do so by applying coarse material to their strings so they become abrasive and try to tangle their string with another kite.

Children then gather the kites and can attempt to launch them again.

Although kite flying is the main focus, it isn't the only activity going on lakeside.

There will be Pakistani food, arts, crafts, apparel, jewelry and henna art. There also will be live music performances by Pakistani pop artists. Kaif explained that kite organizations throughout the Valley have been involved with the festival before but hopes that more will become involved.

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