In Khaled Hosseini’s famous novel, “The Kite Runner,” a boy named Amir growing up in Afghanistan is obsessed with the Asian sport of kite fighting — flying a kite with a string coated with glue and crushed glass to cut the string of his opponent’s kite. Once he wins a battle, his friend and servant Hassan, an accomplished kite runner, chases the kite to the ground and claims it for Amir as a prize. Eventually Amir’s family flees Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979, leaving Hassan behind. When the Taliban takes over the country in 1996, kite fighting is banned as non-Muslim.
Yet today, kite fighting remains popular throughout Pakistan, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Japan and Korea, and was also revived in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The game of kite fighting is mostly unregulated, but there are tournaments and kite fighting teams aplenty in the region.