Uttar-North, Ayan-movement so, Uttarayan means the northward movement of the Sun from the South, the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. To commemorate it, in Ahmedabad and now spreading to other parts of India, kites are flown as though to carry away a person’s sins with the higher the kite is flown, the further away the sins go, reaching for the heavens.
If you are planning your first visit to Ahmedabad, I recommend planning to be in the city from January 12th through the 15th - at the minimum. January 14th is the official Kite Flying Day though the celebrations start much ahead and continue for days after the 14th. Also, the International Kite Flying Festival starts on January 7th and ends on the 14th (2020) in Ahmedabad on the banks of the river Sabarmati.
January 13th, the eve of Kite Flying Day, specifically, starting after dark is locally called in Gujarati as ‘Katal Ni Raat.’ ‘Katal’ means killing, ‘Raat’ means night so, roughly translated, it means the Night of The Kill(ing). Thousands of folks visit the local kite market to make last-minute purchases of ‘Patang’ of kites and ‘Firki’ or the reel of the string. In the picture in the post taken by McAllen Architecture and Portrait Photographer, Pino Shah, the string maker is taking cotton reel thread and coating it with a paste of starch, finely ground glass, color and other ingredients that are known only to him and his team to strengthen the cotton thread. The more the ground glass in the paste, the more potent it becomes to cut other kites. Cuts received while flying the kites are badges of honors that folks display proudly by the number of ‘Band-aids’ they wear on their fingers. Almost like battlefield wounds!
Music, food, dancing, fireworks and, overall, good spirits abound during the Kite Flying Festival in Ahmedabad. Kite Flying Day is one celebration that transcends all genders, religious backgrounds, social casts and, economical class. Folks climb up on the rooftops of their homes and stay there from dawn to late night as lanterns attached to the string flying the kite are flown - a beautiful sight that occasionally endangers structures starting a fire.
Master kite flyers from all over the world attend this festival. Visit the Gujarat Tourism International Kite Flying Festival website for details.