International Kite Festival
.
Ahmedabad
(Gujarat - Inde)

January 7 to 14



The International Kite Festival is always held at Ahmedabad on January 14, to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The people of Gujarat celebrate Uttarayan with a lot of enthusiasm.
It is also a celebration to mark the end of winter.
     
it is a holiday when every family can be meet outdoors 'cutting' each other's kites and all business comes to a grinding halt for a couple of days.
This immensely popular kite flying festival is held in all the important cities of Gujarat. The festival lures expert kite-makers and fliers not only from major cities of India but also from around the world. A plethora of designer kites are also put on display.

Kite flying begins at dawn and continues without a pause throughout the day. Friends, neighbors and total strangers battle one another for supremacy and cries of triumph rend the air when someone cuts the line of a rival.
 
     
 

Story of one of the festivals:

"The sky is the limit, they say, for those who wish to achieve something." And Monday was one such day for a lot of national and international kitists. As the kites soared high in the clear blue sky, the participants along with the spectators, including a large number of non-resident Gujaratis, joined in the celebrations.

It was not a breezy day in Ahmedabad but this did not deter them from displaying their kites, in all sizes and colours, till the sun descended. Beating the heat (it was a warm day today), they took time off to have snacks and then once again came out in the open on the Police Stadium Ground to delight the spectators.

     
For many kitists, who have been taking part regularly at international kite festivals, it was an opportunity to meet each other on yet another occasion. Language was no barrier for them. The event saw participation from 18 countries, including USA, China, Holland, Brazil, Chile, Australia and Italy.

"In Gujarat, we have not seen a kite festival organised in such a manner before," they said, when spoken to separately. But for many there was only one hindrance. As a kitist from Holland said, "There is very little space to fly kites and people (spectators) stand very close to you."
 
     

 
But before the second half of the function, when the actual kite-flying began, the masses were entertained with a Suryanamaskar presentation, a Bharatnatyam dance, a small programme by singer Falguni Pathak, a guest appearance of actress Juhi Chawla as well as the lead cast of the Star Plus popular serial.

The crowds could hardly control their excitement when Smriti Irani, Juhi Chawla, Aman Verma, Jaya Bhattacharya, Sudha Shivpuri and the rest performed garba on the stage to the tunes of Falguni Pathak.

The stage appears to be set for Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Gujarat on Tuesday to inaugurate the Vishwa Gujarati Parivar Mahotsav.
     
And to gel with the situation, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for once gave a non-political speech. The festival, he said, is an example of Gujarat's cultural strength. Like the kites, Gujarat wishes to soar high, he said. Mr Modi wished that the "best in the world" should be in India and added that Monday's function was just a humble attempt in this direction. To conclude, he said that fighter kites (in which the kites are tangled and cut) is the property right of Gujarat. "It's a kind of patent," he said.
 
 
 
A tremendous variety of kites are seen and the connoisseur can choose precisely what he wants. Experts specially prepare the lines with which the kites are flown on the great day.

Special mixtures of glue and ground glass cover the lines, which are dried and rolled onto rears known as firkees. So sharp are these lines that, carelessly used, they can cut a finger.

The excitement does not end with nightfall, which is the time for illuminated box kites, often in a series strung on one line, to be launched into the sky. Called tukals, they add a touch of splendor to the dark sky.
 
         
  One of the sidelights of the festival is the Patang Bazaar, which is open 24 hours a day in the heart of Ahmedabad during the Makar Sankranti week.

A visit to this bazaar in the middle of the night proves beyond all doubt that the entire population of the city is obsessed with patangs and they crowd the streets and buy their stocks while haggling and enjoying through the night.
     

People of all ages gather on terraces or rooftops and engage in kite flying. There is music in the air and traditional delicacies are especially prepared for this day.

The Gujarat State Tourism Corporation organizes an International Kite Festival every year.

Speaking on the occasion, chairman of the Essar Group S N Ruia said that the festival of Uttarayan is an ideal platform to forge greater social harmony, which is the foundation and harbinger of economic and social prosperity. Kite flying, he said, represents a deeper symbolism, meaning and social significance than just gathering together for fun and frolic.


Bhanubhai Shah of the Kite Museum was also felicitated at the function and a book on 'Strings of Timeless Tradition', written by Skyie Morrison from Canada, was released on the occasion.

More info about Patang: Here

 
     

Extract : Deccan Herald. Crédit photos : Martin Skoog (photographe suédois)