By Basharat Tayyab. It is Lahore which made Basant, a spring festival popular not only in Pakistan but all over the world as the largest kite festival. It is a mega festival centering on kite-flying, which adds colours in the sky and makes people happy and brings them out from their daily hectic routine. However, the celebrations of spring known as 'Jashn-e-baharaan' in Urdu, are carried on in the entire country for almost a month.
Basant is celebrated most fervently throughout Pakistani Punjab, Lahorites, the city dwellers of ancient city of Lahore bid farewell to the cold and foggy days of winter and usher in spring. They mark the beginning of spring with the Basant festival, a party of kite-flying, rooftop and garden parties and colourful events. It is a celebration involving huge gatherings of people for socializing, conversation, and recreation. Basant typically featurea food, music and dancing.
The city dwellers and out-of-town enthusiasts dress yourself in glamorous clothes, in the yellow and green of spring flowers blooming citywide. Nighttime kite-flying in the 16th century Badshahi mosque and Lahore fort inaugurates the festival. Ancient mughal palaces hold all-night parties to view the kites. 'Lollywood' stars from local film industry perform sing sufi poetry with musicians at parties.
Historicall, Basant was a popular festival at the major Sufi shrines, such as Nizam Auliya ki Basant, Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki ki Basant, Khusrau ki Basant; festivals arranged around the shrines of these various sufi saints. Khusrau, the famous sufi-poet of the thirteenth century, even composed verses on Basant: