San Yamin Aung
RANGOON — Hundreds of colorful kites filled the sky over Rangoon’s Kyaikkasan Sports Ground this week during the 10th annual Myanmar Traditional Kite Design and Kite Dueling Competition. The Myanmar Traditional Sports Federation (MTSF) organized the seven-day contest, which included a prize-winning contest for the most beautiful kite design and a kite dueling competition. “We organize this contest annually to maintain kite flying, which is one of Myanmar’s cultural traditions, and to promote international recognition for Myanmar traditional kite flying,” said Ohmar Than, general secretary of MTSF. She said 103 contestants from 15 townships in Rangoon participated in the event, which began on Tuesday. Participants were being judged on the design of their hand-made kites, which consisted of a bamboo frame and a painted cover made from rice paper or thin cloth, and on their skill in flying the kite. One participant, for example, won praise for a kite designed to look like a snake, which he maneuvered through the sky in a slithering motion. During duels, individual kite runners face off and try to bring down or cut their opponent’s kite. Teams of five kite flyers also compete against each other in such duels. [irrawaddy_gallery] Winners of the competitions, Ohmar Tan said, could win prize money ranging from about US$120 to $270 and will be supported with training and material so that they can participate in international kite festivals, such as Malaysia’s annual World Kite Festival. During the last festival in Malaysia, in February, MTSF sent two Burmese kite flyers, she added. But more important than winning is of course the fun of participating, and dozens of Burmese from all ages enjoyed this week’s event. “This is my seventh time,” said Than Kyaw Htaw, a 24-year-old contestant, from Tamwe Township, adding that he liked the sport because “People are happy and forget about stress when they fly kites.” “I am trying to go to an international kite competition and festival,” he said. Maung Tin, a sprightly 85-year participant with a one meter-wide green kite resembling a bird, said, “It is really good for your health. You can run on the ground and fly kites together with your friends.”

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