Festivals,  Travelogues

Colourful spectacle at the International Kite Festival

I had hear about the International Kite Festival from my friend, Chetna, several times, but travel plans never seemed to work out. However this year finally, I was lucky to be in Ahmedabad right in the middle of the kite festival.

Makar Sankranti marks the first day of the sun’s entry into Capricorn (Makar) and also signals the beginning of longer days and warmer times. Almost the whole of India celebrates this day in one form or another: Pongal, Lohri, Magh Bihu or Sankranti. The period between Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti is considered auspicious and is called Uttarayan.

The day is usually spent flying kites and eating til-gud (laddoos made of sesame and jaggery). In Bihar and the other eastern parts of India the tradition is to eat dahi-chura (curds and flattened rice) with gud (jaggery). Undhiyo and jalebis in Gujarat, khichadi in north India, pooran polis in Maharashtra, pathishapta, pithe puli and payesh in West Bengal, and sakkarai pongal in Tamilnadu— the list of goodies cooked and eaten on this day is long.

In Ahmedabad kite flying starts a whole week in advance. This year the kite festival began on 9th January and will end on the 14th of January.

This morning our gang of girls landed up on the Sabarmati river front, where the International Kite Festival is on. Huge crowds of people had gathered there to witness the colourful spectacle. The pavilions had been marked out for participants from several countries. Myriad colours and shapes filled the sky. The way kites sway and slither up and down is fun to watch. And the kite fliers have the expertise to control the way the kites move. When it comes to kites, there is not much to write about, but there is lots to see. Enjoy the pictures I clicked today.

And finally have a look at this picture. What do you make of these wires protruding from the scooters?

We asked a policeman and he said that the wires protected unsuspecting riders from injury from stray manjhas or the glass-coated threads of the kites. Interesting jugaad, isn’t it?

People flying kites on almost all roofs of tall apartment buildings

Addendum: Today is Makar Sankranti and I’m still in Ahmedabad. Everyone has gone berserk. People are all on rooftops— flying kites. Everyone is trying to pull down other kites with their skills. All the trees seem to have colourful torn kites fluttering from them. Most apartment buildings have large groups of people precariously perched close to low parapets, excitedly flying kites. This looks scary and dangerous as one wrong unconscious move backwards and you will drop down several stories. But as our taxi driver said: Tyohar hai, manayenge ki jaan dekhenge! (It is our festival. Should we celebrate or watch our lives?) That’s the sentiment kite flying has here. And then the night sky will light up with tukkals, which are paper lanterns which are lit up.

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