Dozens of kites of various shapes and colors soared in the bright sky over an open field in Carnaval Beach in Ancol, North Jakarta, marking the opening of the Jakarta International Kites Festival 2012, on Saturday.
The kites in shapes that represent “unity” were flown during the two-day festival, which was held to also commemorate Jakarta’s 485th anniversary.
The theme “unity” was chosen by the festival’s organizers, Le Gong Kite Society, to show that the festival has become not only a place to compete, but also to forge friendship amongst its participants.
“We have held this festival for 18 years. It has become a medium for kite lovers from foreign countries and locals to know each other,” said Sari Madjid, the chairperson of this year’s festival.
Under the theme, 150 participants, from 18 foreign countries and 15 provinces in Indonesia showed off their creations.
A local kite team from Central Java province, for instance, brought a rectangular kite which showed four arms, in four different colors, holding one to each other.
“The picture painted on the kite shows that we are indeed plural, but united,” said Warsono, 53, from Budi Utomo Kite Club from Cilacap, Central Java.
Kites which showed the plurality of Indonesia were abundant to find in the festival.
A team from West Java province, for example, prepared a round-shaped kite which represented a globe, showing Indonesian archipelago on it. The edge was then painted with children in various local traditional costumes holding arms.
The judges took scores in kite designs, craftsmanship and creativity before they were flown. Judges also took scores when the kites were already soaring in the sky, by considering their appearance and flight duration.
In addition to requiring participants to bring kites that employ “unity” as its theme, the organizing committee also opened four kite competitions which are two-dimensional, three-dimensional, Indonesian traditional and Japanese-style hexagonal kites.
The unique traditional Indonesian kites flown in the festival stole the hearts of many foreign participants.
Sweden’s Andreas Agren, for instance, was impressed by a kite made of leaves brought by participants from Southeast Sulawesi.
“I have three favorite kites in the world, two of which come from Indonesia. One is a kite made of kelopek leaf from Southeast Sulawesi and the other is a kite made of banana leaf from West Nusa Tenggara,” Andreas said.
Festival visitors of were more attracted to see three-dimensional kites. During the festival, they could see kites in various shapes such as crab, dragon, horse or even a kite which was shaped like a famous cartoon character, Spongebob Squarepants. “You do not see such kites every day, right?” said Supriyono, 30, who came to the festival with his wife and six-year old son from their home in Sunter, North Jakarta.
In addition to the three dimensional kites, Supriyono and his family members said that they were mesmerized by a formation of a kite train. A kite train is a group of kites which are fastened together, one after another, similar to a train.
According to Supriyono, the festival was interesting as he could bring his family for a picnic.
However, he regretted that the festival lacked of promotion. “We come here because we are visiting the Carnaval Beach. My son asks me to go here after seeing soaring kites from the beach. I think more people will be interested to come if they know about this festival.”
Local participants also criticized this year’s festival, saying that the venue was not really comfortable to fly kites. “Next to this field, a tall building stands at the front. It makes the wind circulation unstable,” Slamet Purwanto, 28, from Cilacap.
According to Slamet, last year’s event was better because it was held at the beach so that wind could blow steadily.