On Makar Sankranti, Ahmedabad and various other parts of Gujarat are filled with colors of life as it celebrates the kite festival. Gujarat kite festival signifies the cultural strength of the state and how it is soaring high up to the skies and securing the best position in the world. This tradition of flying kites has been followed for many generations and it marks the end of long winters and the beginning of spring with the sun returning to the Northern Hemisphere. The festival is related to the change of season and the clear blue skies bring a feeling of joy and happiness in everyone’s life.
History of Kite festival in India:
The history of kite flying states that it was a popular and entertaining sport of the Kings and Nawabs for whom the festival was a means of showing their power. Kings of different places used to hire trained flyers to fly the kites on their behalf and slowly this art became popular and is still enjoyed as the particular festival.
Every year, major cities of Gujarat and the neighboring states participate in the occasion, which is also the time that marks the awakening of the gods from their slumber, who are believed to have slept for six months and are now awake. The celebration denotes merry making and it is this time when the temples are thronged with visitors again. Uttarayan or Makar Sakranti is the time when every family member can be met outdoors and people of all ages forget any rivalry or jealousy and fly kites from dawn to dusk.
Uttarayan also marks the sign for the farmers that the sun is back and it’s time for harvest season. This particular day is considered to be very important and holds great significance.
For days preceding the celebration of Gujarat kite festival, the markets are filled with colorful and designed kites and today the manufacturers are taking the business seriously and offering the customers cost effective opportunity to purchase them. You will find colorful kites in different patterns and dimensions and some special kites are available with paper lamps inside, that illuminate the sky at night.
Kite festival in India is celebrated for two days and the state is shut down from almost all normal activities and people take to the rooftops and roadsides to participate in the occasion. Competitions are organized, when the main aim is to cut the strings of nearby kite flyers and bring them down. To win the competition, people purchase from the best suppliers, who prepare strong paper kites using bamboo frames to get the right tension. The kite is then attached to a special string that is coated with a mixture of powdered glass and glue to make it sharp for cutting the strings of the rivals. Today, there are Patang Bazars where people can purchase kites of different shapes, colors and strength.
Both children and adults get up early in the morning and gather on the rooftops and special food like undhiyo, which is a preparation of several season vegetables and beans, jalebee and laddoos are prepared to be consumed for the whole day. Friends and relatives gather on the terrace and this again leads to social gatherings that may not otherwise occur.
Gujarat Tourism also holds the International Kite Festival to attract tourists to witness the skills of various artists who come from various states and countries. It is held at Ahmedabad and people from various parts of the world come to display their kites of various designs and they also arrange for spectacular shows that are enjoyed by participants and spectators. Visitors from China, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Brazil and etc. come to celebrate Uttarayan in Gujarat.