Uttarayan - Gujarat's Kite Flying Festival
I had a hasty What'sapp reply from our lady in Ahmedabad this Saturday, in response to a quick production query: "Today is kite-flying day and everyone is on the rooftop!". (Despite this, she still managed to rustle up an answer to a price enquiry!)
I thought it apt therefore, to share something about this amazing festival, known as Uttarayan, which takes place on 14th and 15th January every year.
The Indian state of Gujarat celebrates some 200 festivals a year, but Uttarayan is arguably the biggest, and is now a 2-day public holiday.
It marks the end of winter, and the return of summer and the impending harvest. Everyone takes part, making kites at home and flying them from the rooftops. The streets and markets in Ahmedabad are flooded with kite-sellers and equipment for kite-making in the days leading up to the festival. One of the most famous markets for materials and kites is Patang Bazaar in Ahmedabad.
Symbolically, the festival represents the awakening of the Gods from their winter sleep. It was first introduced by Persian Muslims, and was enthusiastically embraced by the kings and queens of India who made it a royal sport. But gradually over the centuries, it became popular with ordinary citizens, and today everyone, regardless of faith or background, is welcome to join in the fun. In 1989, the first International Kite Festival was held in Ahmedabad, which today attracts kite flyers from all over the world.
Sigh - I wish I could be there!
Enjoy these wonderful images of the festivities by Meena Kadri, and check out more of her gorgeous images on her Flikr page.