The International Kite Festival, held primarily in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat brought together kite flying enthusiasts from across the world.
Uttarayan, or the International Kite Festival in Gujarat 2017, held over a week concluded recently. Brightly coloured kites marked the skies of cities such as Ahmedabad, which has played host to the festival since 1989. With participants from over 32 countries, kite flying enthusiasts and kite makers got together to make the festival a confluence of cultures.
In the Hindu calendar Makar Sankranti, coincides with the dates of this festival, marking a change in season from winter towards warmer times. People all across the India celebrate with kite flying from rooftops and competitions are held; with those who cut the strings of opponents being declared the winners. Kites and kite supplies were seen on display very openly in Ahmedabad in the run up to the festival as many artisans making strings and kites by the road sides appeared in many parts of the city. The banks of the river Sabarmati were also a popular spot in the city where children can be seen running around with kites.
The kite festival this year brought together people from the countries such as France, Estonia, Lithunia, Vietnam, Brazil and Cambodia. A diverse crowd, the kite makers came to Ahmedabad to display their unique pieces and techniques of making them. “This is not the first time we are here. We have been participating for a few years now and it is incredible each time. One of our kites has been painted by a local artist in Turkey,” stated a delegate from Turkey. Themes and colours for the kites found inspiration from local stories and history from across the world, making the event an informative event. When enquired about a kite that piqued the curiosity of many, a delegate from Lithunia explained “This man on the kite is actually the image of a deity we hold sacred back home, Perkūnas,” adding “He is known as the thunder deity, much like the Hindu God Indra.”
The International Kite Festival in Gujarat has become a way for the Government of Gujarat to promote local arts. “The scale of the festival has grown over time since the first festival was held in 1989. It has come with growing demand,” stated Kamlesh Patel, the Chairman for Gujarat Tourism. “This time 14 places in Gujarat, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Jamnagar and Dwarka will see large scale festivals happening. From Gujarat itself over 180 kite makers and fliers are participating,” he added before the festival was inaugurated. Explaining how Gujarat was being promoted, along with the interests of the locals, he said “A destination pavilion is available this time to make information easy for others. Local arts and crafts are being promoted through the market and food stalls offering local cuisine will certainly help the local economy.”
Cultural programmes with themes based on kites, a mass scale suryanamaskar (sun-salutation) performance and other such grand events had marked the opening of the festival, where the Tourism Minister of the State Ganpat Sinh Vasava, pointed out the importance of the government in playing a role of providing the status of an ‘Industry’ to the Tourism Sector. “This has led to an increase in the flow of tourists in the state by 18pc,” he stated, adding “the kite industry alone provides employment to as many as a 100,000 people.”
With the International Kite Festival at Gujarat growing larger every year, this year’s festival marked an enthused participation from locals and visitors from across the world, while setting itself as a platform for the promotion of the local arts and culture of the people of Gujarat.