International Kite Festival
|The International Kite Festival is always held at Ahmedabad on January 14, to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. It is a joyous day, with a bright sun, clear skies and breezes strong enough to lift innumerable kites aloft. It is in fact a celebration to mark the end of winter, when the heat of summer is still to come. Kites are flown all aver Gujarat, and Ahmedabad and Baroda become cities of kite-flyers, when all other work is forgotton and cares are put aside for the morrow. Special food is eaten, usually in the open field or a park, or in the garden of one's home. Even for the religious, it is a time to rejoice, for it marks the movement of the sun into the northern hemisphere. The gods who are believed to have slumbered for six long months are now awake and the portals of heaven are thrown open! The temples are thronged with visitors and alms are distributed freely.|
|Kite-flying starts at dawn and continues without a pause throughout the day. Friends, neighbors and total strangers battle one another for supremacy and cries of triumph rend the air when someone cuts the line of a rival. A tremendous variety of kites is seen and the connoisseur can choose precisely what he wants. Even the lines with which the kites are flown are specially prepared by experts before the great day.|
|Special mixtures of glue and ground glass cover the lines
which are dried and rolled onto reels known as "firkees ". So
sharp are these lines that, carelessly used, they can cut a finger.
The excitement does not end with nightfall, which is the time for illuminated box kites, often in a series strung on one line, to be launched into the sky. Called "tukkals", they add a touch of splendour to the dark sky. The enthusiasm generated by the festival is such that local kite-flying competitions used to be held in all the major cities. Today, an International Kite Festival is held at Ahmedabad, which draws visitors from all over the world. This gives the people of Ahmedabad the change to see the unusual kited brought by the visitors some of which are truly works of art.
|The visitor is naturally curious to learn more about kites, and his curiosity can be satisfied at the Museum, which presents briefly and colourfull, the history of kites. For instance, we learn that in 200 B.C. Huan Thang of china flew a kite at night to overawe the army of the Han dynasty. From 100 B.C. to A.D. 500, kites were used for sending signals and to measure the distance of enemy camps. By A.D. 930, the Japaneses mention "Shiroshi", meaning paper bird, for the first time. Between A.D. 960 and 1126, kites were flown to banish evil. In Indian literature, kites were mentioned for the first time in " Madhumati " by Manzan , and were called "patang", which is the word still used today.|
|From Ahmedabad one can visit Gandhinagar, the new capital,
which is 32 kms away. The mediaeval step-well of Adalaj is on the way.
Only 115 kms away is Modhera with its 11th century Sun Temple. Sarkhej,
only 12 kms form the city, is a building complex dating back to the
Sultantate. Apart from these, there are numerous places of interest with
in ahmedabad. These include the sandstone jalis or latticework
screens which were intricately carved and form part of the Sidi Saiyed
mosque. Karkaria lake is a place where people spend pleasant evenings away
from the rush and bustle of the city.
Ahmedabad is at the geographical center of Gujarat and delightful excursions can be planned from here.
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