Happy Uttarayan: The Festival of Kites

All of a sudden today’s date struck me. 14th January. Seven years since I have been married and in Mumbai, this date has ceased to be important.

There is a state-wide holiday on 14th January in Gujarat. After all it is the festival of Uttarayan (Makar Sakranti), the festival of kites. As a child, I loved this festival. There are no pretensions and no religious formalities to it. No wonder I loved it. It is a day of pure enjoyment.


uttarayan ahmedabad
Image: flickr.com

Day before the festival, we buy the kites and stay awake till late to make them ready-to-fly. The next morning, it isn’t the alarms that wake us up, but our bubbling excitement. Even though it is still dark, the latest hit songs of the year start blaring from the CD players. Needless to mention, there is nobody to police the noise pollution. Mama insists on me and my sister taking a bath and getting dressed in proper clothes before we step out on the terrace. But my little brother proves too quick and cunning for her. He runs up to the terrace in his night clothes but with his kites and string generously laced with tiny glass shards, manja (specially ordered by my uncle in Surat). And within no time, there are loud noises of ‘kaypo chhe’ reverberating in the atmosphere. It is fun with all types of beautiful kites providing a colorful panorama against the blue sky. One flies the kite; the other holds the manja supporting him in this competition. For today, just for one day, the entire population of the city is found on the terrace wearing sunglasses and caps.

After a while, we take off to friend’s places, I mean terraces. The meals are a giant feast comprising of mouth watering foods from many houses enjoyed together. Fafda, jalebi, undhiyun, lilva ni kachori, til laddoo, etc. Ummm…I am salivating already.

The dusk falls but we hold onto the last rays of the sun till we can see no more. But it isn’t the end. After a couple of hours, we meet again. This time, the kites are white and there are delicate sky lanterns (tukkals) tied on the thread that look like a fiery necklace against the ink black sky. Oh, it’s so beautiful that you need to see it to believe it. It is only while sleeping that we see the cuts and feel our aches. But these are happy pains. Memories of a good day!

uttarayan night
Image: wikimedia

It was another time, another life. Now I want to re-live the experience through my little daughter. I wish to take her to Ahmedabad during Uttarayan so that she could experience and appreciate this unparalleled event. And learn to fly kites too.