Amazing Photos of India’s International Kite Festival

January 17, 2014

As spring approaches in India, kites fill the sky in celebration. January 14 is the festival of Uttarayan, also known as Makar Sankranti, which marks the movement of the sun to the northern hemisphere.

Kite flying festivals were held this year from Jan. 7 through Jan. 14 in anticipation of Makar Sankranti in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Saputara, Mandvi and Dhordo Rann of Kutch. The festivals draw master kitemakers and flyers from all over the world.

"Last year, we won the kite festival in China. Now we are here to make our mark in Gujarat's kite festival," 12-year-old Ahmed Nibras Abdullah of 'One India Kite' team from Kerala told The Times of India. This year he flew a Kathakali kite, styled after an elaborately costumed traditional dancer.

For the first time, this year’s event in Ahmedabad featured participants from countries like Estonia, Seychelles, Congo, Mozambique and Bulgaria. "We are happy to be part of this festival as our country does not have a culture of kite flying," said Ranno, a kiteflyer from Estonia.

Uttarayan is a time for giving thanks, as the Hindu background of the festival is the celebration of the gods waking from their 6-month slumber.

According to The Times of India, this year’s weather and wind speed was perfect for kite-flying.

While most of the kites used are traditionally styled, according to Huffington Post, many kitemakers will produce kites with Bollywood stars and social messages. It is the variety and bright colors that make this festival particularly memorable.

Kite flying has royal beginnings: it began as a pastime for kings in China. It was quickly adapted by civilians, and traditions spread to India, where fighter kites were developed.

Kite fighting is a large part of the International Kite Festival. Participants often bring many kites so that they will be able to keep flying even after being snagged by another kite.

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