The kite season commences with the Makara Sankranthi or the Uttarayan celebrations on January 14th every year in India. This day can be truly called as the “Kite day” as numerous kites in many towns and cities compete with each other for a spot in the sky nearly blotting out the sun! The weather is clear on this day, spring like and is perfect for kite flying.
On this single day, so many kites take to the skies, with families participating by being together on rooftops, open lands, flying the kites that traditional kite-makers of India spend the entire year making them.
On days other than kite festivals, it is only the true enthusiasts who fly kites as a hobby, with similar passion. Today there are kite festivals, kite clubs, kite museums all over India, which indicate the vast interest in this unique sport.
One does not find new and young kite flyers in urban areas taking to this sport, a major reason being, lack of open spaces; also this sport has to compete with television, computers, and now mobile phones, which are major distractions for the younger generation. For many urban youngsters, kite flying doesn’t even enter their field of perception as a worthwhile hobby.Kite flying during the festival
Makara Sankranthi has both children and adults flying kites with equal enthusiasm. This is a day when everyone spends time together, with family and friends and has a fun filled day.
(Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year on January 14th. Makar Sankranti marks the end of a long winter with the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere. Makara Sankranti is celebrated in the month of Magha when the sun passes through the winter solstice, from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn.
Makara literally means 'Capricorn' and Sankranti is the day when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next, is also considered auspicious as it signifies a fresh start.
This tradition of celebrating this festival has been around for thousands of years. Initially, this was probably a festival celebrated in the cold climate, when people prayed for the warmth of the sun, but today,
Makara Sankranti is celebrated throughout India as a harvest festival.)
Most of the houses in India have a flat terrace, and that is where people fly their kites. The other most popular space to fly kites is in large open grounds, near riverbanks and beaches. A game people play is to cut others’ kite and see how many they can cut by the end of the day.
The festival is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm in all parts of the country. The following images portray this spirit and the celebrations in Gujarat and Amritsar.In Gujarat:
Makara Sankranthi or Uttarayan is the as kite-flying day in Gujarat. Kite flying during this festival is a way in which people offer their respects and worship to the Sun God. This is the highlight of the festival, as it is a time of thanksgiving and also it is a time to be happy. Letting the kite fly high, up to the heaven is to signal the Gods to wakeup, and to open the portals of heaven, as it is believed that they have slumbered for the past six months.
Gujaratis look forward for this festival the whole year. The family members, friends go to the terrace of their homes and fly kites. Loud music is played in background to boost the energy. They cut each other, neighbours kites and shout “kaade, kai po che” in enthusiasm.
The city of Amritsar gets gripped in a festive mood. Colourful kites take over the skyline of the city as people fly kites from terraces and elsewhere to keep the tradition alive.
The following images show the team effort to fly this extra large sized kite. This is the festival that brings in participation of families, friends, and people.
The market is scoured before and the different types of kites are bought and tried each year. This is a festival that kite flyers look forward to and also plan in advance with their families.