On January 14 and 15, Gujarat will celebrate the festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. Kite flying is an integral part of this festival, and people across the state throng to their rooftops to have a glimpse of the colourful skyline or to immerse themselves in kite flying.
But a few years ago, the world was unaware of this festival. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his chief ministership in Gujarat, thought of making this local festival of Gujarat global and through Vibrant Gujarat, the kite festival was organised first in Ahmedabad and then in different cities across the state under the name of International Kite Festival.
Kite flyers from all over the world were invited to take part in the festival in Gujarat. Since then the International Kite Festival in Gujarat has become global.
Making a kite, flying it and bringing down another person’s kite is an art.
Gopal Patel, an expert kite flyer, said he has had the opportunity to visit many different countries and showcase his kite flying skills, ever since the festival was promoted under Vibrant Gujarat.
“Kite flyers and people from abroad are also coming to Gujarat to see this festival and this has increased tourism. Earlier, the kite flyers who used to make fun of our small kites copied the design of our kites,” the kite flyer from Ahmedabad said.
Ever since the International Kite Festival started through Vibrant Gujarat, the fortunes of kite-making artisans have changed.
Kite-making artisans mostly come from the Muslim community.
In earlier years, only a few traders used to come to local artists to buy kites from them and sell them in the market. But ever since the Kite Festival started, people ever started contacting them from abroad. These artisans nowadays have worked almost throughout the year.
Rizwan Qadri, a historian, said that this kite festival has been celebrated in Gujarat for many years.
“The beauty of this festival is that neither age nor religion nor discrimination of anything becomes a hindrance in celebrating this festival,” Gadri asserted.
“Everyone has been enjoying this festival with great enthusiasm for years but it used to be only local but Modi ji’s initiative changed it from local to global and today this local festival which was a small industry has turned into an industry and is doing business worth crores,” he added.
(With inputs from ANI)