Soaring as High as Kites in Bali

What should the first blog post of the year be about? Surely, something uplifting and beautiful, so as to bring good vibes to the New Year. Well, last summer in Bali, I discovered that not only Balinese were very enthusiastic about cockfighting (Cockfighting in Bali) but they have another (less bloody) passion that is literally uplifting and certainly beautiful: kite-flying.

Every year toward the end of the summer, when the winds are favorable, Bali holds a Kite festival where giant kites are made and flown by teams from surrounding villages (and now international teams also participate). And as with nearly everything else in Bali, this festival has a religious aspect. The kites flown up the sky are intended to deliver prayers to the Hindu gods in the hope of an abundant harvest.

I was not in Bali during the festival but rather in the weeks leading up to it, so on a Saturday afternoon while at Sanur beach where the festival is held, I was able to see some of the competitive teams practicing their skills. There are mainly three types of kites flown, two of which I was able to see. They are both magnificent. My favorite is the one called Janggan (the dragon) as it has a dragon-shaped carved head. Its most impressive feature is the broad flowing cloth tail that can reach more than 100 meters in length. In the air, it is a magnificent sight. The other one, the Bebean is even larger but not as long and looks like a “broad-mouthed, split-tailed fish.” I cannot imagine the work involved in building one of these, but I know a lot of time was spent by Balinese young and old, in the community centers (banjar pavilions) of the participating villages. Though these two traditional kites were extremely impressive, the one that won my heart was made by a young boy from a garbage bag.

However, during this half-day at the beach, I had not realized how widespread kite flying is in Bali. By going to other beaches near the rice paddies, one can see 40-50 kites being flown by young and old almost every late afternoon. The kids or young men (it seems to be primarily but not only a male activity) are running, laughing, falling, and starting again until dusk forces them to leave. The last image shows a kite that says: “I’m lucky born in Bali” It is clear that they mean it.

In this New Year, may we all soar as high as kites in Bali.

Happy New Year to all,




10 Responses

    1. Thank you Julie. Trying to be upbeat which is not usually my thing. Maybe this should be one of my New Year resolutions. All the best, France

  1. Yes, indeed, an uplifting blog to start the new year. What impressive kites! HUGE. I particularly love your image of the sunset, with the boy’s kite’s x-shaped “handle” (?) and the sun flare on it. Very lovely.

    1. Thanks Kathy. Gigantic kites, indeed. And as usual, you picked my favorite image of the set. It is great that the kids fly their kites late afternoon as you get interesting light to play with.

  2. Happy 2016
    Nothing probably evokes the idea of setting oneself free than kite flying..yet still bound to earth by a string. ..a paradox.
    Who could not be in a happy state of mind when enjoying this illustrated by your photos.

    1. Happy 2016 to you as well, Emilie. Let’s hope for the world being a better place for everybody. Good point about the kite and the string. Maybe we all want to be attached to something. It makes us feel safe. France

Would love to hear from you!

Recent Posts

Subscribe to Stories via Email

Enter your email address to get notifications of new stories via emails. No worries, I don’t write very often.