International Kite Festival (Uttarayan)
This festival of Uttarayan is exclusively a Gujarati occurrence. The skies over cities of the state are filled with kites from earlier than dawn. International Kites festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer. Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown. Also the major opposition and a fight are held between the kite-flyers. They have to cut the strings and transport down the kites of each other. For this, people find their preferential kite-makers who arrange burly resilient kite bodies with springy bamboo frames. The kite-paper is protracted exactly to the right tension. Lastly, the kites are linked to a spool or firkin of manja. The special kite-string is covered with a combination of glue and glass that can be as sharp as possible. It is used for cutting strings of rival kites. Production of kites and kite supplies can be visible on the streets of Ahmedabad. It principally begins in November so that the kites can get ready for Uttarayan. In Patang Bazaar that is the extraordinary kite market can be appeared in the old city. This week preceding carnival led kite bazaar is opened for 24 hours a day so that all kite lovers can hoard up for the festivities.
Makar Sankranti or Kite Flying Day marks the finish of a long winter with the revisit of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. According to the Hindu astronomy the sun enters the zodiac of Makara (Capricorn). Hence it is called Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti.
This festival is renowned on 14 January of each year during the Makar Sankranti and carries on until the 15th of January. This date marks the end of winter season with the revisit of a more balmy weather for farmers of Gujarat region. The days of kite festival also turn out to be a public holiday within the Gujarat district of India so that everyone can take part in the festivity.
Types of Kites
The kites are usually prepared with materials such as plastic, wood, leaves, nylon, metal and other scrap materials but the ones for Uttarayan are made of light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly diamond shaped with middle spine and a single bow. Dye and paint are also added to amplify the glamour of the kite. The lines are enclosed with mixtures of glue and ground glass. It is also known as firkees as it becomes pointed enough to cut skin. These types of pointed lines are used on fighter kites known in India as patangs to cut down other kites during various kite combating events. During the night, on the second day of the festival, illuminated kites overflowed with lights and candles known as tukals or tukkals. They are commenced in order to produce a show in the dark sky.
Although the idea of flying kites to celebrate Uttrayan was commenced by Muslims from Persia. Most visitors arrive from India, from Gujarat itself and from another state too. In chief cities of Gujarat, kite flying starts as early as 5 am and goes until tardy night where about 8-10 million people contribute in this whole festival.
However many visitors are international who come from around the world such as Japan, Italy, UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, China, and many more to take part in the celebration. The kite festival has been strongly influenced by its international participants, in the recent events.
At the same time, this festival is the occasion for many public entities such as famous dancers, singers, actors or politicians who make an appearance and entertain the population. In 2004, for example the Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla was part of the celebration and performed a Garba dance which is very popular in India.
The International Kite Festival in Gujarat has become a major tourist attraction. The Kite Festival is also significant for the Vibrant Gujarat at Global Investor’s Summit held during this time. Since 2003, the word ‘Vibrant’ has become associated with Gujarat as it enhances the national and international reputation of the state.
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