. Several households in Gujarat are busy manufacturing numerous types of beautiful kites for the purpose of being flown during the International Kite Festival of Gujarat. During Uttarayan, the Government of India declares a holiday for two entire days to encourage people to indulge in all the festivities associated to it. People are served 'Jalebi', regional food of Gujarat known as 'Undhiyu' which is a mixed vegetable which consists of beans and yam and brittle sesame seeds. The participants engage in purchasing the different supplies of the materials from the local markets, which portrays the high levels of enthusiasm of the people for the Kite Festival. The festival commences on 14th January and continues till the 15th of January every year.
History of International Kite Festival
The charm and the revelry associated with the kite flying cuts across different age groups, class and communities. According to history India developed a rich tradition of kite flying under the patronage of the kings and Nawabs for whom the sport was both entertaining and a way of displaying their prowess. Fliers were trained and later employed to fly kites for kings. Gradually the art became popular amongst the masses. Today, manufacturing of kites has also developed into a serious business. There exists a mythological belief which states that kites are flown during Kite Festival to awaken the Gods of heaven, from their slumber. The very first International Kite Festival had been organised in Gujarat during the year 1989, and innumerable people from all across the globe participated in this festive occasion. The International Kite Festival 2012m Gujarat had been inaugurated by Narendra Modi.
Location of International Kite Festival
Nadiad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Ahmedabad are the various regions which observe this grand festival. But, the International Kite Festival's main venue is in Ahmedabad which is referred to as the 'Kite Capital of Gujarat'. Sardar Patel Stadium is considered the most reputed area for the celebration of the Kite Festival and this stadium is believed to be capable of accommodating 54, 000 people. Another significant venue of this festival is the Ahmedabad Police Stadium.
Participants at International Kite Festival
It is said that the custom of flying kites in Gujarat was introduced by the Muslim invaders who had arrived in the county from Persia. However, presently, the common masses are permitted to readily participate in the International Kite Festival, irrespective of their caste, creed, sex or religion. People start flying kites since 5 am which extends till late night, and nearly about 8 to 10 million people play an active role in the entire process of flying kites. Visitors crowd this festive event, from all the corners of the world including France, USA, Italy, UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Japan.
However, some of the recent events have been influenced by foreign destinations which involve the following combinations: Italian sculptural kites brought by Italy, giant banner kites ushered by USA, 'llayang-llayanghave' brought by Indonesia, 'wau-balang' kites introduced by Malaysia, 'rokkalu' fighting kites brought by Japan and many others. Renowned personalities like successful actors, dancers, singers and politicians are often invited as the chief guests in Kite Festivals of Gujarat, many of whom deliver live performances.
Types of Kites in International Kite Festival
In the International Kite Festival of Gujarat, numerous types of kites are sold in kite markets which are lined up beside the food stalls. Nylon, plastic, wood, leaves, metal and several kinds of scrap materials are employed to manufacture the beautiful kites, though the kites for Uttarayan are made with bamboo, light-weight paper and a bow. Paint and dye are applied to add to the glamour of the kites, and pieces of ground glass are rolled up along the rear end of the kites which are known as 'firkees' which are quite sharp. At night, illuminated kites, accompanied by lighted candles and lights which are referred to as 'tukkals' or 'tukals' are flown across the dark skies, which is a marvellous spectacle.
The kite festival lures expert kite-makers and fliers not only from major cities of India but also from around the world. A plethora of designer kites are also put on display. Months before the kite festival, houses in the localities of various cities in Gujarat engage in manufacturing of kites and seen to be like kite producing factories. All the members of the family take part in making of kites. The paper and sticks are cut thousands of kites of different shapes, colours, and sizes are prepared and sold in the market. The string is coated with a special glass powder and rice paste, all set to cut each other's strings and knock down the kites. The Gujarat State Tourism Corporation even organizes an International Kite Festival every year.
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