Kites of varied sizes, shapes and colours along with reeling spindles tightly wound with 'manja' or thread used to hoist the kites were on show. The crowds, particularly the young, hunted for the strongest thread.

"The more kites I snap cut with strong 'manja', the more respect I earn from friends and neighbours," said 23-year-old Javed Saif, who indulges in kite fighting every year.

The 'manja' has to be strong and is strengthened with crushed glass, egg, pigeon droppings and wax so that it can snap cut rival kites.

"Last year I snapped close to three dozen kites within a span of a few hours," said an excited 16-year-old Pankaj Sharma of Darya Ganj.

Kite flying grew out of Old Delhi as a tradition. The tradition may be dying in other parts of the capital but is alive and kicking in the Mughal-built walled city.

The festive rush has obviously left the shoppers ecstatic

"The market comes alive three to four days before August 15. This is the time we do 70 percent of our entire business," said Nayeem, who has been in the kite business for a decade.

"This season there is a rise in the demand for Bareilly manja as compared to Chinese manja which were quite popular last year," said Hafiz, a fellow shopkeeper and owner of National Kite Centre.

The business in Delhi is so good that it attracts people from other towns to set up temporary shops days before Aug 15.

Apart from the usual tri-colour kites that remain popular every year, a new type of huge yet lightweight kites made of plastic called 'tabey' are selling like hot cakes.

"These kites are big but not heavy and can be hoisted easily they are easy on the pocket as well compared to similarly sized kites," said Ajay Singh, who bought half a dozen of them, priced at Rs. 20 per piece.


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