Friday, October 06, 2017
The Kite Festival, or Uttarayan, is unique to the state of Gujarat. The skies are filled with colorful kites from dawn till dark, with all daily activity shutting down to see both children and adults taking to their rooftops to partake in this festival of flying kites. Uttarayan marks the turn of winter to summer in the Hindu calendar, which is also known as Makar Sankranti.
While no one knows exactly when this tradition began, it is believed that kites were first brought to the state by Muslims. In fact, kites were first brought to India by Muslim traders coming through Persia. Since Gujarat lies at the western-most edge of India, it has seen a lovely blend of both the Hindu and Muslim cultures. The same partly explains the rise of a Hindu festival involving kites in the state, and subsequently all across India.
The Kite Festival takes place on the 14th of January all over India each year. Vadodara is famous for kite festival on Uttarayan on January 14 and Vasi Uttarayan on January 15, which marks the celebration of Makar Sankranti.
Kites of different shapes and colors are flown in Vadodara during the Kite Festival, with people competing to bring each other’s kites down by cutting kite strings. The kites are attached to a spool, popularly known as manja, a special string made sharp with a coat of glue and glass for bringing down rival kites. Several markets in the city are stocked with a variety of kites with dedicated kite markets set up in various parts of the city. The week preceding the festival witnesses maximum activity, with markets open 24 hours a day for festival enthusiasts to make their purchases.
Kids start flying kites just as the dawn breaks with the atmosphere sparkling with festivity as families gather to their rooftops. Mouth-watering laddoos, undhyu, and surati jamuns are prepared for the day. In the night, kite flyers send bright white kites in the dark skies, as experienced flyers send their tukkals with bright lanterns into the sky. Right from the morning till late into the night, the Kite Festival is a fun-filled celebration with magnificent sights that remain etched in one’s memory for a long time.
The best time to visit Vadodara to enjoy the festival is between the 7th and 14th January. However, advance booking is recommended if you’re staying in a hotel in Vadodara since the place attracts quite a crowd – both domestic and international.