On 14 Jan of every year the whole of Gujarat and parts of Maharashtra get submerged in celebrating a festival which is one of a kind in the world. All across India 14 Jan is celebrated as “makar-sakranti” which is celebrated the day when the sun starts to travel northwards marking the decline of winter. The days become longer, the skies clearer and the breeze cooler.
Though Gujarat boast of more than 2000 festivals but this festival stands out, trespassing religions and now even borders. It is the day when the skies in Gujarat are filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes. People from all the backgrounds irrespective of Geography, caste and creed come together and celebrate it.
International visitors have come from countless countries, including Japan, Italy, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, China, and many more.
As Rajul Doshi points out : “This is one day when everybody forgets their worries and other jobs, comes out on their terrace and make the most of the day.”
Historically Uttarayan has had been a part of Gujarat’s identity since centuries and recent efforts by the Gujarat govt in showcasing it is only adding to its charm and glory. The way the festival is being celebrated has also come long way.
Dhawal Shah points it out well “Modernization in terms of the Chinese kites n tread (manjha) seems to have become a norm now.” The festival has gained so much importance that manufacturing of Kites has become a serious business, additionally since the Gujarat Govts’ initiative to make it International Kite Festival inviting people across the globe, its growth outside the state of Gujarat is rapidly increasing and in future course of time it would be not limited to a region.
Dhawal also points out that “it should be made more popular among youth in India for which aggressive marketing is required so that it could be as grand as Christmas itself and as it reflects traditional and cultural aspects of Gujarat. It should be preserved and maintained to sustain Gujarati culture.”
The food is as special as the festival, families have undhayu, jalebi fafda bhajiya dhokla and hot masala milk which are served especially for the day.
The excitement of this festival is not just in the day. The nights see the arrival of the illuminated box kites, often in a series strung on one line, to be launched into the sky. Known as tukkals, these kites add a touch of splendor to the dark sky. It is a festival truly to watch out for those interested in “Incredible India”.