Makar Sankranti: the kite flying tradition


The weather is soothing up and the sun is shining but it is still quite cold in UK with temperatures dropping down to 0 degrees at nights where I live, but in India folks have already celebrated the end of winter the past week in their own grand and traditional way, especially in Gujarat. This festival is none other than the world famous International kite festival commencing from 14th to the 15th of January during the festival called Uttarayan. It is held during “Makar Sankranti” which symbolically celebrates the awakening of the Gods from their deep slumber, kind of like a polar bear hibernating through winter till spring. It’s a lot of fun, so much so that even the government has pronounced the two dates as public holiday within Gujarat.

So technically, the festival marks the end of winter and rejoicing the return of the clement weather apt for the farmers in the Northwestern regions. The tradition dates back to pre Mughals when the Royalties indulged themselves into the tradition of kite flying and also as a sport, which was later continued by the Mughals too.

 

The International Kite Event takes place in Ahmedabad (capital of Gujarat), which accommodates visitors from many international destinations. The first International Festival was celebrated in 1989 when people from all across the globe participated and showcased their innovative kites and kite flying skills. In the recent 2012 event, The International Kite Festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of Governor Dr. Kamla Baniwal and the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat mentioned that the International Kite Festival in Gujarat was attempting to enter the Guinness World Records book due to the participation of 42 countries in it that year.