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Pulling Strings in Bali

Island and Traffic Pauses for Annual Festival of Kite Flying.

(7/26/2004) As estimated 770 kites - so large that some are transported on the back of large trucks decorated the skies above Sanur Beach during Bali's 26th Annual Kite Festival from July 22-25, 2004. On each day of the event large teams of young men from local villages, all dressed in regulation traditional Balinese costumes, launched kites of every shape and description over Padang Galak's beach front in an effort to win honors for their home community.

This year's teams were limited to launching kites with a maximum width of 4 meters, a ruling introduced by the organizers to reduce traffic jams as the kites are marched through the streets of Bali to the festival and, according to the judges, to guarantee the kites are light enough to remain airborne and under control.

Despite the new regulations, traffic came to a standstill on numerous occasions during the course of the festival as hundred of young men paraded the streets, playing music on belaganjur orchestras, as they accompanied their massive kites to and from the competition grounds.

The 2003 event drew some 1,009 participating teams, a figure down to 770 teams for this year's event. Organizers were quick to explain that many teams were unable to attend this year's festival due to timing conflicts with local temple festivals and a major cremation ceremony in Ubud.

In addition to providing great entertainment to tourists and locals alike, the annual Bali Kite Festival represents the re-enactment of ancient agrarian folkloric tradition tied to efforts to ensure a bountiful harvest.