Indian Kite Festival
Visiting an Indian Kite Festival is a must when in India!
Indian kite festivals are celebrated in several parts of the country although the reasons for kite flying aren't always the same. While there are many Indian kite festivals that are organized solely for the purpose of exhibiting and flying kites, there are some that involve kite flying as a symbolic representation of the festival or occasion. Either ways, kites are an essential part of all communities in India and Indian kite festivals are one of the few occasions where celebration transcends religious beliefs.
Kites are an essential part of the culture of India and in rural parts of the country, they are at times the most common mode of entertainment for the local children and even adults. If you are visiting the country, chances are that you will see kites in the sky no matter where you go and at whatever time of the year. With such a deeply imbedded affection for the art of kite flying, it comes as no surprise that Indian kite festivals draw such large crowds.
The biggest Indian kite festival takes place every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The festival marks the beginning of the Spring season in Gujarat, the host state of the annual international kite festival. Held on the 14th and 15th of January, the kite festival is known as Uttarayan and draws people and participants from all over the world.
Although there are many regular competitions about the best looking and most unique kite in the competition, the biggest attraction remains the regular attempts at the world record for the largest kite train in the world. Besides this, there is another major part of Indian kite festivals that cannot be ignored - kite fighting.
Indian kite festivals are known for people gathering on rooftops and local parks & open areas to fly fighter kites. Fighting with the Indian fighter kite requires a considerable amount of skill & ability and it some time before you can master the control of the fighter kite.
Once there, you are ready to jump up and take on the tens of thousands of kites in the air. There are no rules to Indian kite fighting and all Indian kite festivals include kite fighting as a part of the agenda. Unlike more organized competitions in other parts of the world, kite fighting in India requires you to fly using the Manjha, a string coated with glue and ground glass. The string is used to cut the opponent's control line and let their kite loose.
Indian kite festivals also bring about a unique feature that is quite common in India, Pakistan and even Afghanistan but cannot be seen elsewhere - The act of chasing a kite that just lost a dog fight. The loose kite is chased on the streets by children and adults, looking to gain the upper-hand and get to the kite first to claim the fallen kite.
Traditionally, it is considered that the rulers of lands would enjoy flying kites and fight with their friends & guests as only they could afford these toys. The subjects would watch the incredible battles and once a kite would get cut, they would chase it to get to it first, so that they could get a kite of their own. Today, the tradition continues and it isn't unusual for you to see people jumping over rooftops and walls to get to a kite.
Indian kite festivals are not restricted to religious and traditional beliefs. If you are in the country around Independence Day, then you will be treated to another incredible display of kite flying and fighting no matter where you go. People begin gathering at various vantage points early in the day and kites are flown till dusk.
Another unique aspect of all Indian kite festivals is the fact that kite flying doesn't stop once darkness falls. People are known to fly box kites with candles and oil lamps in them, creating another spectacular vision for the eyes of onlookers. All Indian kite festivals are known to attract international participants as well however, Uttarayan and the kite festival of Gujarat is the most well-organized Indian kite festival where international participants come by the truckloads along with their fans.
A country that's colourful by nature, India combines a number of religions, castes and sects into one unit. It comes as no surprise that there is a special place in the hearts of the people for kites. These colourful toys and their wonderful application makes Indian kite festivals a joy to watch.