Uttarayan (The International Kite Festival) is regarded as one of the biggest festivals
celebrated in Gujarat.
The name Uttarayan comes from joining two different Sanskrit words
“Uttar” (North) and “ayan” (movement towards).
Uttarayan, or Makar Sankranti is the day when the sun starts to travel towards
north as a sign of coming summer.
On January 14 every year, Ahmedabad celebrates the festival of Makar Sankranti with impromptu kite contests that commemorate the skills of both making and flying kites.
Homes in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites months before the festival.
On this day, the skies over the city are liberally dotted with colorful soaring forms;
the kites are made in several sizes to suit child and adult, amateur and professional alike
and the decoration ranges from the extremely plain to the highly elaborate.
In spite of this variety, all kites share the same dominant structural design –
the square body of the kite has a vertical diagonal held by a straight bamboo split
while the horizontal diagonal holds the arched bamboo split.
Both splits are firmly anchored to the paper square with small paper stickers;
the boundary string which holds the bamboo
and the paper strengthens the paper edge when it catches the wind
as the flier tugs at the string while maneuvering the kite.
Manja, the kite flying string, is made of cotton thread that is covered by
starch and glass powder in order to grant the string
strength as well as enable the kite flyer to successfully cut
the string of an opponent’s kite.
Bamboo splits are sourced from Assam and craftsman travel all the way
from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to Ahmedabad
for the kite making season.
Although the idea of flying kites to celebrate Uttrayan was introduced by Muslims from Persia, today regardless of your background or beliefs, you are welcome to fly kites
with everyone else in Gujarat in January.
Most visitors arrive from around India, from Gujarat itself or another state.
In major cities of Gujarat, kite flying starts as early as 5 am
and goes until late night where approximately 8-10 million people
participate in the whole festival.
Images : Google