The International Kite Festival, one of the most color events in India, is commenced on 7th January and concludes on 14th January 2018 in Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat. Also known as Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti in Gujarat, this one week long kite festival is organised by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat and is one of the main attractions of tourism in Gujarat.
The International Kite Festival is held in Gujarat every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. The festival symbolizes the change of winter season in to summers and signifies harvesting season for the farmers. People irrespective of caste, creed, sex, region or religion participate in this festival. It is considered a major cultural event as people from not only India but all over the world gather together to witness the magic of this festival and show their talents in kite- making. The sky looks absolutely gorgeous with kites in innumerable tones, designs and shapes of the kites being flown in the air.
Uttarayan is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals and is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm within the Gujarat community. Since 1989, the city of Ahmedabad has hosted the International Kite Festival as part of the official celebration of Uttarayan, bringing master kite makers and flyers from all over the world to demonstrate their unique creations and wow the crowds with highly unusual kites. In past years, master kite makers from Malaysia have brought their wau-balang kites, llayang-llayang have come from Indonesia, kite innovators from the USA have arrived with giant banner kites, and Japanese rokkaku fighting kites have shared the skies with Italian sculptural kites, Chinese flying dragons, and the latest high-tech modern wonders.
The best place to enjoy this festival is the Sabarmati Riverfront or the Ahmedabad Police Stadium, where people lay down to see the sky filled with thousands of kites. The kites are usually made with materials such as plastic, leaves, wood, metal, nylon and other scrap materials but the ones for Uttarayan are made of light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. Dye and paint are also added to increase the glamour of the kite. The lines are covered with mixtures of glue and ground glass which when dried, rolled up and attached to the rear, also known as firkees, become sharp enough to cut skin. These types of sharp lines are used on fighter kites known in India as patangs to cut down other kites during various kite fighting events.
During the night, illuminated kites filled with lights and candles known as tukals or tukkals are launched creating a spectacle in the dark sky. The Patang Bazaar is the hot spot of the youth during this festival. At the same time, the festival is the occasion for many public entities such as famous dancers, singers, actors or politicians who make an appearance and entertain the population. During the event, kite markets are set up alongside food stalls and performers.