In India, kids celebrate the winter solstice, called Makar Sankranti, by flying kites. Sounds like a fun, harmless tradition, right? The trouble is that, as anybody who has seen The Kite Runner knows, kite-flying in the East can be extremely competitive—cutthroat, if you will. Many kite-flyers use glass-coated string called manja to sever their competitors’ kite strings. But the string has severed lots of other things, too, including birds’ wings and breasts and even human throats. So PETA India held an eye-catching protest during Makar Sankranti to urge kids to use cotton string instead:
Every year, bird sanctuaries are called to assist thousands of pigeons, crows, owls, hawks, and other birds who have been badly maimed. Thousands are killed after becoming helplessly entangled in razor-sharp manja. Pedestrians and people riding by kite competitions on bicycles or scooters have also been injured and even killed. Five people, including two children, were killed and nearly 250 people injured in one state alone during a previous Makar Sankranti.
PETA India is lobbying to get manja outlawed throughout India.