The Uttarayan festival is one of the biggest events celebrated in the country. When the shackles of the cold winter gives way to warm and bright summer days, and the harvest season is upon us, various cities and towns in Gujarat come alive to mark Makar Sankaranti and organise kite-flying competitions. People roam the streets and meet up on rooftops to engage in a fierce, yet fun battle with other kites, the wind and sometimes, the birds! Kite enthusiasts will surprise you with their brightly coloured kites in vivid and innovative designs.
A lot goes into the preparation of the festival. There is of course a wide variety of sweets and local delicacies that are available in the markets. Traditional kites are available or you could opt for ready-made ones or make your own with paper and bamboo. Maanja is the thread that is used to fly a kite. It is made with a special glue, ground rice and glass. The maanja helps the kite-flyer to cut the strings of other kites. But it takes practice and a great deal of skill to master the art of kite-fighting. The last one standing wins the competition. Around eight million people are said to participate in the kite festival every year.
Regardless of one’s religion or beliefs, one can always fly kites together with everyone during the festival.
It is believed that the tradition of kite-flying began as a sport for kings, and over the years, it became so popular that the common people took it up as a form of entertainment.
The popularity of this festival has reached far and wide, and participants from around the world come to participate. The first time the festival was celebrated as an international event was in 1989.
Visitors from all over the world, including from countries such as the U.K., the U.S., Japan, Italy, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and France among others, now take part in the festivities.
Let’s see how your kite fares among millions of others. Ready to fly one?