By Malayanil @themalayanil

ONE of India's oldest kite clubs is flying the flag for the traditional pastime

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Colourful creations: Manish and Sunil Gupta with some of their kites

The practice used to be hugely popular, with competitions held all over the country.

Manish holds up one of his vintage kites

But the amount of people taking part in the discipline has dwindled over the years.

The Union Kite Club in Old Delhi was founded by five men in 1956, and still operates from the house of one of its founders in the city's Chawri Bazar. 

A pair of vintage kites owned by the club

The home of Ram Dulare Gupta is filled with roughly 7,000 kites and around 800 of them are antiques.

Out of the 80 to 90 clubs in the capital, the 78-year-old's is the longest-running.

A kite representing the Hindu goddess Kali

He said: "The tournaments still exist but there are hardly any left.

“They do not get any sponsorship or any support from the government.

Reels of multi-coloured kite-flying line
Manish flying a kite from a terrace

“Those of us who arrange these tournaments once or twice a year pay from our own pockets."

The Union Kite Club is now run by Ram’s four sons, who have chosen to remain batchelors their whole lives.

Manish with some of his collection

Manish, 35, Sunil, 49, Sanjay, 42, and 35-year-old Sanjeev are all kite-flying competition winners, but fear there will be no one to carry on the family tradition when they are gone.

Sunil said: "Kite-flying will always be our first love. We never have time to do other things.

Lets go fly a kite: Manish and Sunil

“We are looking for a suitable bride for our younger brother Sanjeev, so there is still hope."

Ram Dulare Gupta blames India's reducing amount of open spaces for kite-flying’s decline, and also believes young people spend too much on their computers.

An old photo of Ram (left) competing in a kite-flying competition

He said: "There is a risk of the kite or the thread used for flying kites falling on and injuring two-wheeler drivers.

“So the government doesn't allow kite-flying from most of the open fields.

Ram Dulare Gupta (right) seen with Indian film actor Dilip Kumar
Ram (right) at a kite-flying competition

“But people should fly kites. It is a good exercise for the arms and it improves your eyesight.

"I am not too sure how long the Union Kite Club will survive.

Sunil Gupta making a kite

"I know my sons are doing everything they can."

Despite its fall in popularity, the practice is still common at festivals such as India's Independence Day celebrations.

Sunil with one of his prized possessions