International Kite Festival 2013 Gujarat
When it happens: Mid-January(Monday, 14th January 2013)
Where it happens: Gujarat, India
The majority of Indian festivals originates from the Hindu scriptures and is celebrated in honor of their deities. The International Kite Festival 2013, Gujarat, is actually a religious celebration, even though it looks as a secular way of having a good time.
In Vedic astrology, the end of winter heralds the entry of the sun into the Capricorn (Lord Ram) sign, and from then on, moves northward. Kite flying has been associated with Lord Ram according to a Ramcharitmanas (Hindu scriptures) couplet which states that Lord Ram flew kites with his friends. Thus, kite flying has come to mean welcoming back the sun god to his usual place in the Capricorn constellation.
In other parts of India, this event marks the end of harvest and is therefore celebrated as Ponggal. In contrast to “Patang Parva” or Kites Festival, Ponggal centers around offerings of harvest bounty, preparing banquets, and holding rituals to deities of agriculture, including cattle (which is considered important in rural India).
In northern and western parts of India, a similar event is called Makar Sankranti or the end of winter.
About the Event:
On January 14 next year, the skies of Gujarat will be filled with bright colors of different shapes and sizes. It is the occasion of the International Kite Festival 2013, Gujarat, which also happens to coincide with Makar Sankranti.
The kite fest is managed by the local tourism office. The Gujarat Tourism Development Corporation promotes kite competitions. The event is held in a local stadium where hundreds of participants try to cut off each other’s kites. Kites also line up the streets leading to these stadiums, along with hundreds of food stalls where tourists can sample local cuisine.
While soaring kites are very attractive in daylight, they are equally breathtaking at night. Kites are lit with colorful lights (locally known as tukal) and are flown at night to compete with each other and entertain the crowd. While this is the main event after dark, there are also various cultural performances held in the stadiums and open parks.
At home, families prepare elaborate meals of mixed vegetables which are to be taken with millet and buttermilk curd. These foods are cooked in slow flames during the day, and are eaten outside as they are finished while enjoying kite shows.
For international travelers who plan to compete, inquire from the Gujarat Tourism Office on how to participate in the kite fest weeks before the event. Otherwise, if travelers happen to be in the area, they may want to do walk-in inquiries and just gather materials on site.
This is one of the few religious occasions in India where non-Hindus can participate without going against their own faiths. While Gujaratis attribute a deeper meaning to the occasion, tourists can take part and simply enjoy the event as a secular occasion.