Layang Layang – The Bali Kites

Young and old love this Balinese classic.

Sometime between June until September, Bali’s usual clear blue skies will be decorated with colorful kites flown by joyful kids and grown-ups all over the island. These months are considered as the best period to let the kites rise towards the sky, as the winds during the dry season are strong and kites can reach unbelievable heights. However, you can see kites in the skies of Bali all year around.

It is a wonderful moment for the Balinese to gather on the beach or play with their kites from the rice fields together with friends, family or neighbors.

Flying kites in Bali is a sacred religious tradition to thank Gods and request a bountiful harvest or “Rare Angon.” The colors commonly chosen are black, white, red and yellow, which represent the incarnations of the Hindu deities.

There are at least three types of traditional Balinese kites we can find today:

  • Bebean kite which looks like a fish
  • Janggan kite depicts a long tail bird or a dragon
  • Pecukan kite is shaped like an enormous leaf and known to be the most difficult to fly

From a very young age, boys in Bali are taught to make their kites from the bamboo and thin colorful paper known as “kertas minyak”; this is also a cherished father-son bonding activity.

Adults replace that paper with silk-cloth that is sewn up on the bamboo frame and using rope instead of string to navigate the kite. For the large kites that are 5m or longer in size (without the tail!) a large group of people are necessary to operate them.

The largest fish shaped kite belonging to the Meranggi family, has a tail of 150m length, weighing 80kgs, and comes with a wingspan of 10 meters and a length of 15 meters.

The Bali Kite Festival

Since the late 1990s, the Sanur district of Bali has hosted the annual June–August Bali Kite Festival, which draws in a large crowd, especially kite fans from all over the globe. Hundreds of groups from all Bali banjars (local communities) will compete with their best kite flyer team, “Sekaa Layangan,” for the big prize. Each group builds their kites differently and takes months to prepare.

During the event, fascinating kites in many shapes from cartoon characters, temples, superheroes figure, and animals are flown in the air. There is a cultural theme contest as well, where a priest will bless the kite before taking-off and a group of 70-80 people; consisting of flyers, a gamelan band, and flag bearers will march to the venue in uniform.