Uttarayan, (Makar Sakranti)
January 14 is the day of Uttarayan, (also known as Makar Sakranti) when the sun starts to travel northwards, marking the decline of winter. The days become longer, the skies clearer and the breeze stronger.
In Gujarat, Uttarayan is a holiday when every family can be met outdoors. People of all ages fly kites from dawn to dusk. Estimates of kites flown during this celebration are in the millions. Crowded rooftops, fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other in kite flying skills and delicious traditional Gujarati feasts are the hallmark of the day.
Between 65-70 kite enthusiasts from Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, South America and USA came to participate in the Gujarat International Kite Festival, held at the Police Stadium in Ahmedabad. The festival included cultural programs of Gujarati folk music and dance, parades and speeches from Gujarati dignitaries and the attendance of "Bollywood" TV and film stars.
Ahmedabad Kite Market
The Patang Bazaar (kite market) is situated in the heart of Ahmedabad. The night before the kite festival, Ahmedabad turns into a frenzy of buying and selling kites, with amazingly numerous bulk purchases. Estimates are over a million kites sold and flown during festival week.
Though out the market one can observe manjha (colorful glass powdered paste) being applied to kite string, allowing the Indian fighter kite to cut their opponents string effortlessly. Manjha can be seen applied by hand or by a mechanized application with a bicycle-wheel contraption.
The Drachen Foundation was graciously invited to participate in the Gujarat International Kite Festival by the Indian Government and we were pleased to be included!