International Kite Festival of Ahmedabad, Gujarat is celebrated every year on January 14. The most-awaited Indian festivals attracts a large number of people from all over the world. The 9-day festival kicked off on the day of Makar Sankranti with much enthusiasm and of course with big, beautiful and unique kites were observed in North India or Uttarayan Gujarat.
Ahmedabad is the only city which hosts the International Kite Festival, the occasion is especially celebrated with great zeal in the cities of Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Nadiad and also in other states like Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jodhpur etc.
History of International Kite Festival
The royal kings and Nawabs found it highly entertainingLooking upon the history of International Kite Festival, Ahmedabad has been hosting this international kite festival since 1989.
Kite flying was a hobby which now has have been developed over the period of time in India. The royal kings and Nawabs found it highly entertaining and it was taken over as a major sport by them. The liking among the people grew for kite flying, and with time, it became a serious game. People are now making many different types of kites with special strings to compete viciously.
According to some sources, the art of kite flying was introduced by Muslim traders who arrived from Persia. Also, Chinese traders and pilgrims brought in the tradition from Tibet. However, it seems that the practice already existed in India much before.
The significance of the International Kite Festival
According to the Hindu calendar, Makar Sankranti marks the arrival of spring and a day before Makar Sankranti is Lohri, the Punjabi harvest festival.. On this day people, across India are generally seen on their terrace with kites.
Makar Sankrant is a pan-Indian solar festival, which is observed by different names on the same date:
- Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh
- Makar Sankranti in Karnataka
- Pongal in Tamil Nadu
- Magh Bihu in Assam
- Magha Mela in central and north India
The tradition of flying kites during Makar Sankranti has been followed over the centuries as this festival not only brings fun but also a number of health benefits.
Flying kites gives you a number of health benefits as exposure in the sun from early morning and the early sun rays are known to be a rich source of Vitamin D. Since winter brings a lot of sicknesses, the sun rays are known to wipe them off.
The celebration of International Kite Festival
All shapes and sizes of kites are flown!The International Kite Festival is a much-awaited festivity in Gujarat. People on the day wake up early in the morning before sunrise and take a bath in a holy river. Delicious Gujarati dishes, which are ceremonially prepared like ladoo, undhyu or surati jamun are eaten on this day. Arrangements are done for the kite festival as most of the children and male adults gather in small groups on the rooftops and collectively celebrate the kite flying festival together.
All shapes and sizes of kites are flown. Even after the long day of celebration, the excitement does not get over and as soon as the night falls, people attach lighted paper lanterns called tukkals to the kite strings. These are those kites which shine throughout the night looking truly magnificent.
Over the period of time, many new innovations and additions in the festival were added this year also the fourth edition of the International Kite festival started with a unique enthusiasm. Around 42 professional kite flyers from 20 different countries were on fire, the performed in a spectacular way, it was a visual treat for onlookers.
The major kites which attracted the people are:
The Gangnan style kite:
The Gangnan style kite or patang was a huge one. It was created by Won Yurok, a Korean kite flyer and the director of the festival. This particular kite weighted about five kgs and it was brought all the way from South Korea.
Yurok says, "In my hometown, Uiseong, kite flying is a poor man's sport that infuses a sense of freedom in the flyer. Kite flying also teaches us an important life lesson - just like how a kite needs a good wind to fly, people need good friends to live. Today, I have made many friends globally, thanks to all the kite festivals I have visited and I love doing that because I get to meet new people and enjoy different cultures and traditions."
Some kiet's was flown using the remote controlsNo-strings-attached kites added another highlight to the festival as this kite was brought from Singapore. No strings were attached to it. It was flown using the remote controls. "We have two teams of kite-flyers - Night Flyers and Sky Dancers. We are the first to create kites with no strings that can be flown using remote controls. These kites also come with LED lights and weigh about 300 to 500 grams each. This is our second time after 2017 at the International Kite Festival in Telangana."-- said Michael Lim, the founder of the company which designs these kites.
Gustavo Erico Linhares, Brazilian master kite flyer said that coming to India and Gujarat is more than just kite flying. "It is a spiritual experience for me. Since childhood, I have heard stories about India and Brazil being the only two countries in the world where rooftop kites cutting competitions take place. So, I always wanted to be here."
And, now, on Jan 19, 2019, another kite festival is going to take place at Alila Fort Bishangarh, the only known warrior fort in India to have been converted into a heritage hotel.
So, if you are the one who missed the sprinkled vibrant colours on sky during International Kite Festival towering Statue of Unity and white sand desert of Kutch, this is your chance to experience the beautiful and vibrant festival of Kite Flying.
Looking upon the uniqueness of the event, Telangana Government has also organised an international sweets festival with around 1,200 varieties of home-made sweets, all representing different cultures, on display. In addition to it, they have also arranged separate spots for professional kite-flyers and residents to exhibit their skills.