International Kite Festival in Gujarat

International Kite Festival in Gujarat
On January 14 the residents of the state of Gujarat, India celebrate a regional public holiday known as Makara Sankranti or Uttarayan. This festival marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer. One of the most remarkable traditions of this holiday is flying kites. The state even hosts the International Kite Festival that takes place in the city of Ahmedabad. It attracts millions of tourists from all over India and abroad.

The Uttarayan festival is especially important for local farmers because it marks the return of warm weather and signalizes that the harvest season is approaching. The celebration lats for two days. It’s so huge that it has become a public holiday in some Indian states, including Gujarat. During the celebration, kites are flown in many cities of Gujarat, but Ahmedabad is the only city to host a kite festival. The International Kite Festival in Gujarat attracts participants from several dozen countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Italy, the United States, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, France, and more.

Each international participant brings its own type of kite. For example, the Japanese bring traditional six-sided fighter kites known as the rokakku dako. They are made with bamboo and washi paper and often hand-painted with the face of a famous samurai warrior. Chinese participants bring dragon kites, the USA bring giant banner kites, etc.

During the event, special kite markets are set up where anyone can buy a kite. One of the most famous kite markets, Patang Bazaar, is located in the very heart of Ahmedabad. The market is open 24 hours a day and flooded with kite buyers and sellers. Many local families make kites and sell them in small shops set up in their own homes. During the festival, you can buy kites made with various materials such as wood, nylon, plastic, leaves, etc. However, traditional Indian kites known as patangs are made of bamboo and lightweight paper and hand painted.

The best places to observe flying kites are Sabarmati Riverfront with a capacity of more than 500,000 spectators and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium with a capacity of 50,000 seats. During the day, the sky is filled with thousands of colorful kites of all shapes and sizes. During the night on the second day of the festival, special illuminated kites are launched.

The Uttarayan festival also features performances by famous Indian dancers, singers and actors. There’s also a food court where local specialties are served such as undhiy (a mixed vegetable dish made with seasonal vegetables) and jalebi (a popular sweet which can be served warm or cold).

International Kite Festival in Gujarat

Photo: travel photography




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