Home > Bengal Festival, Calcutta (Kolkata), Calcutta Festival, General, Kolkata (Calcutta) Festival > Fanush Making ~ Making of paper made hot air balloons

Fanush Making ~ Making of paper made hot air balloons

Fanush Making

~ Making of Paper Made Hot Air Balloons ~

The following documentation is made at the Dutt family at Bholanath Dham, Beadon Street, Calcutta

Also see: My compilation on Fanush

Fanush Making at Bholanath Dham ~ Ajoy Dutt and P K mullick

Fanush Making at Bholanath Dham ~ Ajoy Dutt and P K Mullick

Fanush (ফানুস, also spelt as Phanush or Phanus), paper made hot air balloon, was once the integral part of North Calcutta (Kolkata) “Babu” Culture. Today the art of Fanush making is a dying art as the new generation has shifted its attention into other sources of entertainment.

The Fanush operates in the same principle of a hot air balloon. The air inside the Fanush is heated by a cloth rag ball (locally called Luti) soaked in spirit. The Luti is attached to the base of the Fanush.

Apart from the conventional balloon shape the fanush also came in a host of different shapes, like pitchers, stars, footballs, ducks, kettles and even the planet of Saturn.

Tricks of the Trade: Paper is the basic raw material of fanush and the tricks of the trade are simple. Scale for measuring, pens for marking and scissors for cutting are the main tools needed. The pasting is done by wheat flour added with a dash of copper sulphate (locally called tunte).

Fanush Making ~ Tricks of the Trade

Fanush Making ~ Tricks of the Trade

The rim is fitted with a bamboo slice frame and metallic wires are used to fix the spirit soaked rag ball (locally called luti). Paper wights and clips also comes handy.

Planning: Planning is the integral part of fanush making. Stencils (locally called chant), preserved by the family for decades, are used for cutting the paper into shape.

Fanush Making ~ Planning

Fanush Making ~ Planning

Although the chant plays a integral part in fanush making but the fanush makers often used indigenous techniques and simple mathematics for creating the fanush. For example the football consists of hexagons and pentagons are drawn geometrically with the help of scale and protector.

Measuring, Cutting and Pasting: Measuring, cutting and pasting are the major three functions and it looks simple, but in reality the simple operation takes years to master, especially the art of pasting which require two skilled fanush makers.

Fanush Making ~ Measuring, Cutting and Pasting

Fanush Making ~ Measuring, Cutting and Pasting

The pasting is done by an home made glue made out of wheat flour and is made insect proof by adding a dash of copper sulphate (locally called tunte).

Fixing the Frame and Testing: A frame made out of bamboo slice is fixed at the base of the fanush by using the same glue, but a different composition. After which air is blown into the fanush by a table fan for checking of leaks. The leaks found are plugged by using the same colour paper.

Fanush Making ~ Fixing of frame and checking of leaks

Fanush Making ~ Fixing of frame and checking of leaks

After the checking is complete and leaks are plugged two metallic wire are attached diametrically across the circular bamboo frame. The wires intersect at the centre where the spirit soaked rag ball (luti) is attached moments before the take off.

Fanush Flying: Probably letting of the fanush requires more skill than making it. First a flaming torch is inserted into the fanush to inflate it. After the fanush inflates the spirit soaked rag ball (luti) is tied at the bottom. The pressure builds inside the fanush and several person holds on to it. who lets it off at the right moment.

Left: Fixing the luti, Right: Inflating the fanush

Left: Fixing the luti, Right: Inflating the fanush

According to tradition the fanush is let off from the courtyard (uthon). The fanush makes it way through the narrow shaft of the house, in lightning speed, up towards the heaven. However to add some variation few fanush are let off from the terrace.

Up she goes......

Up she goes……


Special Thanks:

  • Special thanks to Mr. Ajoy Dutt of Bholanath Dham who allowed me to photograph and document the entire fanush making process.
  • Also thanks to all the members of the Bholanath Dham Dutt family.
  • Also thanks to Mr P K Mullick a friend and neighbor of the Dutt family, who plays an active role in fanush making.
  1. Ishita Roy
    November 14, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Ah! Indeed, the labour that goes into making a Fanush is bountifully rewarded when the beauty soars high up in the sky. 🙂

    • November 14, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      Right Ishita, let the legacy of fanush making and flying survive for ever.

  2. Mahua Datta
    November 14, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Nice work Rangan….we need more of your research…..we should have some events around this dying art…..may be a day when we do a workshop on the same and fly a lots of them to fill up the Kolkata sky

    • November 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Thanks Mahua for your comment and suggestion.

      But you are late in your marketing strategy. Recently hundred of funush were released in the CK – CL block in Slat Lake just before the Kali Puja. These fanush are much user friendly and can be let off just like a rocket firework.

  3. biohazardahuja
    November 16, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    Interesting post, & well researched too!! Especially loved the photographs 🙂

    • November 16, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Thanks biohazardah (Sahil). Happy blogging….

    • May 28, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      Sir please tell me the paper that are used for fanus making.Are this is used by the kite paper?

    • May 28, 2014 at 11:23 PM

      Dear Sanat Biswas, kite paper is used for fanush making.

      • October 13, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        Hello Mr. Rangan, In continuation with your reply, I wish to add that, for Fanush making, better quality paper is available in the market. The same can be found at M/s B. Kumar, P7, Old China Bazar Street, Crossing of Old China Bazar street & Jackson Lane. (Info received from Mr. Ajoy Dutt)

  4. November 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Read this interesting article. I wish instead of the Sabdo Baji polluting our environ, the karigars could be trained and the patrons brain-washed to shift to this joyful sport. It would be so pretty to watch the kali puja night sky lit up with these lighted balloons and no ear-splitting noise to accompany.

    • November 25, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Thanks Sushmita, may your dream come true.

  5. Rajat
    December 1, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Hi, I am Rajat from South Kolkata. I am keenly interested of making Fanush. Couple of years back I have tried to fly a fanush built my myself buy couldnt able to fly. This year on 22nd Nov 2012 I have successfully flown 03 numbers of fanush, which is made by myself. But I am consern regarding safety issues. I am not getting enough confidence to fly more fanush for that reason. Can you give me any contact number of ameture fanush maker so that I can share my knowledge regarding safety. Thanks & Regards Rajat. Email: mallick.rajat@gmail.com. M:0-9674486684.

    • December 4, 2012 at 9:55 PM

      Rajat I have send you the contact in your mail.

      Looking forward to see your fanush take the skies !!!!!

      • December 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        অনেক ধন্যবাদ

  6. December 4, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Rangan, thank you very much for this brilliant documentation of making of ‘Fanush’.

  7. tamal das
    January 1, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Hi Rangan, I am interested in making Fanush on my own effort. Would you teach me how to make fanush? Making of firecrackers is my hobby and I can make almost all the firecrackers found in market. Please reply me soon. I am eager to learn it.

    • January 1, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Hi Tamal, thanks for your mail. I don’t know how to make a fanush. But do send me a email I will send you the contact of the required person.

  8. lutu
    February 19, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Thanks for your effort to teach interested person about fanush.Just I want to know minimum diameter of rim,minimum length of baloon or paper,minimum sige of spirit soaked rag ball is reqired to make a fanush.Is it mandatory bamboo made ring/circle is necessary.If I use thine or light metalic waire to make ring/circle instead of bamboo then what about It.I am agerly waiting for your reply.Best wishes and thanks onech again.LUTU,BANGLADESH.

    • February 19, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Thanks Lutu for showing interest in fanush making. Actually I don’t have any skill in fanush making, but I am sending the contact of fanush maker Ajoy Dutt in you email.

  9. vishalrathod76
    April 6, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Thanks for detailed ans step by step guide to make this beautiful thing called fanush . I will definitely try making this one .

    Travel India

    • October 20, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Thanks Vishal, all the best with your fanush making!!!

  10. October 29, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Wow! Thanks Rangan DA! Interesting info. Did not know there is such beautiful fanush here. I still remember when we were kids during the Moon Festival, some Chinese used to make paper lantern which used to float in the air just like the fanush. also some interesting info from the net regarding fanush.

    Around 220 AD, one of the Shu Han king’s advisors, Zhuge Liang or Zhuge Kongming, used the same idea to invent an early hot air balloon. During one of the many wars of the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge designed a light to confuse the enemy: he put an oil lamp inside a large paper bag, and the hot air trapped inside the paper bag lifted the bag so it floated in the air. The light frightened the enemy and helped the Shu Han to win the battle. People started to call this kind of hot air balloon “Kongming’s Light”.

    By about 1200 AD, when the Mongol Empire ruled China, these hot air balloons were popular at fairs and festivals, where crowds of people would gather to watch big paper balloons float up into the air. Mongol armies, learning about these balloons from Chinese people, began to use hot air balloons shaped like dragons either as battle flags or maybe as signals.

    • November 14, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      Thanks Pouchong (Dominic) Lee for sharing the info on Chinese Sky Lanterns.

      With the revival of Calcutta Chinatown on the cards is it not possible to bring back the lost Chinese art back to life again????

      Hope to see the Calcutta Chinatown sky dotted with sky lantern during the next moon festival.

  11. November 5, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Hello sir i m planning to arrange a fanush show in my son’s first birthday so pls help me out with the concern person’s number whom i need to contact. Please send me the deatils in my mail as soon as possible..Thanks

    • November 14, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      Thanks Vishal for your mail. The fanush featured in my blog are not made commercially.

      You can try out the Bagri Market for ready to use fanush.

  12. Amit
    October 3, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Hello Rangan, I found this interesting post of yours while browsing the net. Nice article though. In the recent past I have also tried making one of these but failed miserably 😦 So can you please send me the details or contacts from where I can get the guidelines of making one? Thanks again.

  13. October 13, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    This year I went to meet with Mr. Ajoy Dutta on 12th Oct 2014 & leant so many aspects of flying fanush. Anyways, thanks for your help by providing contact details.

  14. Amit
    October 13, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Hello Rajat, I too need some info on this. Can you please send me your contact number so that I can contact you? Thanks.

    • October 13, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Sure. My number is given in the earlier posts. Anyways, it is 9674 486 684.

  15. arhan chatterjee
    October 25, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    after a lot of experimentation now i can built high altitude climbing fanush

    • October 30, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Congrats Arhan, if possible do sahe the photos of your fanush heading for the heavens.

  16. November 1, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I have flown three fanush this year. Two of them, I have taken snaps. You can see those lovely pictures at: fanushorao.wordpress.com

    • February 7, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      Thanks Rajat for sharing the info. Nice photos and also thank you for the other info on fanush. Looking forward for more fanush from you.

  17. subhapriya
    January 30, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Nomoskar,Ami onek bar Fanush toiri korechi kintu jethu ami Fanush er gas /nutir meterial ta janina,apni amai ektu help korley ami chesta kortey pari.amar pH no – 8013119510. Email Id- subhapriyaroy9@gmail.com ba apnar pH no ta peley bhalo hoi.apnar reply er asai roilam.

    • February 7, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      I have emailed you the contact no of Mr Ajoy Duut. Please keep me informed about your fanush making.

  18. January 31, 2015 at 12:07 AM

    Hello Subhapriya,

    One thing I wish to point out that Fanush doesn’t fly because of Gas or Carbon-Di-Oxide. It only flies due to Heat.

    So, Material is not important at all. Produce more heat (Along with Nuti / Luti) by using lighter (Mashal) inside the fanush before releasing the same.

    The material can be rag ball or ball made with cotton wool soaked with Spirit. I have also used Baby Diper as a material & it worked fine. Some people also uses cloth ball soaked with wax. You can try many things but with safety.


    • February 7, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Thanks Rajat. I will be sharing this with Mr Ajoy Dutt of Bholanath Dham, Beadon Street.

  19. March 29, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Nice article. I am quit lazy and I try to buy Fanush. Rongin fanush give me such opportunity. Their home delivery service is just awesome. you can also visit – http://ronginfanush.com/

    • April 4, 2015 at 1:06 PM

      Its same here, fanush making is a complicated process I have never tried my hands on it.

  20. April 2, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    বিয়ে,গায়ে হলুদ, জন্মদিন, নববর্ষ, বিবাহ বার্ষিকী, ফটোগ্রাফি, ধর্মীও অনুষ্ঠান অথবা যে কোন অনুষ্ঠানকে বর্ণিল করতে ফানুস এর ব্যবহার প্রাচীন। চীনা সংস্কৃতিতে বিয়ে কিংবা গায়ে হলুদে ফানুস উড়ান কে স্বর্গ থেকে আশীর্বাদ ও সৌভাগ্যর প্রতীক হিসাবে বিবেচনা করা হয় । অনেকে বিশ্বাস করে ফানুস সমস্ত বিপদ, আপদ ও দুশ্চচিন্তা বয়ে নিয়ে যায়। বিভিন্ন ধর্মীও এবং উপজাতি অনুষ্ঠানে ফানুস এর প্রচলন ব্যাপক।

    রঙ্গিন ফানুস বাংলাদেশ এ এই প্রথম নিয়ে এলো বিভিন্ন ডিজাইন ও রঙ এর ১০০% এক্সপোর্ট কয়ালিটির ফানুস। আগুন নিরধক প্যারাফিন কাগজ ব্যাবহার করায় এটা লোকাল বাজারের অন্যান্য ফানুস এর চেয়ে অধিক নিরাপদ ।

    সতর্কতা – অধিক বাতাসে ফানুস উরাবেন না। উড়ানোর সময় আশপাশ এ উঁচু বিল্ডিং, রাস্তা, এয়ারপোর্ট অথবা বিপদ হতে পারে এরকম কিছু আছে কি না এ বিশয়ে সতর্ক থাকুন। ফানুস ছোটদের খেলনা নয়, একমাত্র পূর্ণবয়স্ক দায়িত্বপূর্ণ বাক্তি এটি উড়ানোর কাজ পরিচালনা করা উচিত।

    পাইকারি এবং খুসরা মূলে ফানুস বিক্রয় করা হয়। ফানুস কিনতে চাইলে যোগাযোগ করুন-

    Mobile: 01712247787, 01855080891


    • April 4, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      ধনবাদ আহ্মেদ ভাই

  21. chiranjib kar
    October 11, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    we need some small fanush for lighting of our pooja pandal. can you help me from where we can purchase in urgent basis.

    • October 22, 2015 at 3:54 PM

      Sorry for the late reply, but I have no idea of shops which sells fanush.

    November 13, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    Rangan da please Bolun Fanush making er jonno j paper use hoi tar name ki . And fanush flying er jonno jeti porano hoi seta ki and kothai pabo . please please please answer it my mail . please please . And I still waiting for your response in my mail Id .

    • November 13, 2015 at 5:52 PM

      Dear Md Biswas, Fanush is made of normal kite paper.

      Jeta porano hoy se take luti bole. Kaporer tori ekta ball, over night spirit e bijeye rakhte hoy.

      Hope I am able to answer your question.

      • MD BISWAS
        November 13, 2015 at 6:07 PM

        Many many many thanks Rangan da . thanks a lots in bottom off my heart

  23. Debashis Mukherjee
    November 14, 2015 at 11:46 PM

    It is true since this particular art is driven only by passion by a few people. Can we not get together and help all these great passionate creators to have a forum and develop interest to all the youngsters and help this art to get into a different dynamics?
    Would like to invite all who loves to see FANUSH.
    The show will be staged by Mr. Sachin Mukherjee on 29th November at 2.30 pm.
    CALCUTTA -700037

    We have already invited a few creators, who will be there at that time.
    Would like to seek your assistance in making their life successful.

    Debashis Mukherjee
    Mob: +919831842296
    (Grandson of Mr. Sachin Mukherjee)

    • November 29, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      Thank you Debashis for the invitation, I will be there

  24. Debashis Mukherjee
    November 30, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    Dear Rangan da

    It was simply great as well as honour to have you on Sachin Mukherjee’s show on 29th Nov 2015, together with Mr. Rajat Mallik, Mr. K. Jaiswal the two upcoming stars who would like to carry the torch of “Fanush” making.

    It was also a great delight to see them using the same platform to show their skills. More then that I saw the eagerness of these gentlemen to literally learn from the old masters of this art. I personally wish them to be more successful in making new designs and show the world.

    At the same time, would wish to see many other young creators who would be interested to get along, join this forum and make this successful. Would request if a few photographs can be posted.

    Can I request you to carry on this lead together with Mr. Rajat & Mr. Jaiwal and also others who will join this wave. For any assistance of any sort, I will there beside you all shoulder to shoulder & not at the back.

    Lets get together and prove “BENGAL CAN DO, BENGAL IS DIFFERENT”

    • December 2, 2015 at 11:20 PM

      Thanks you Debashis da for the invite and the comment. It was great to see Sachin Mukherjee’s fanush after a gap of three years.

      Our meeting is just the small step for a long journey, we need to carry forward the rich heritage of fanush. I am getting in touch with more young fanush makers and we can make the lost art revive its past glory!!!

  25. Raj kumar Das
    November 1, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    Thanks for sharing beautiful story of fanush making I’m interested in making Fanush so can you plz share me the contact details of Fanush maker

    • November 3, 2016 at 8:47 PM

      Dear Raj Kumar do contact Ajoy Dutt of Bholanath Dham, here is his email ajoydutt.kolkata@gmail.com and do give my reference

      Also keep me updated about you fanush making process

  26. Anirban Ghosh
    November 3, 2016 at 7:31 PM

    I am eager to learn fanush making, will you please provide me the contact details please.

    • November 3, 2016 at 8:47 PM

      Dear Anirban do contact Ajoy Dutt of Bholanath Dham, here is his email ajoydutt.kolkata@gmail.com and do give my reference

      Also keep me updated about you fanush making process

  27. November 7, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    Can I get your phone number or address?
    Because I am a kite maker. So I want to learn make fanush from you. As soon as please contact at this number(987466694). Thank you.

    • November 8, 2016 at 1:32 PM

      DearRajat, I don’t make fanush. For fanush making contact Ajoy Dutt of Bholanath Dham, here is his email ajoydutt.kolkata@gmail.com and do give my reference

      Also keep me updated about you fanush making process

    • Debashis Mukherjee
      November 8, 2016 at 1:42 PM

      Will request you to attend the Fanush Festival at Milk Colony on 27th Nov (Sunday) at 2.00 pm. You will get to introduce yourself with all the Fanush makers of Bengal. then you can always start interacting.

  28. chayan biswas
    November 29, 2018 at 3:07 PM

    sir work shop kobe habe ektu bolben please
    ami join korte cai .

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