Though I am not a native of Gujarat, this is my shot at describing the most energetic environment I have ever witnessed.
Uttarayan also known as Makar Sakranti is the day that marks decline of winter season in India.
The days become longer, the skies clearer and the breeze cooler.
Various states celebrate this day with respective festivities but the most unique I find is in Gujarat.
Uttarayan is marked with a kite flying festival. Kites galore last two days with the second day celebrated as “Vaasi Uttarayan”.
*Note: Please take care of all safety guidelines before kite flying.
Basically, entire Gujarat shifts their bases to terrace. You will find each and every person on rooftop flying kites. Look up and it looks like a tribute to the vast sky.
As explained by some of my Gujarati friends, this is how it goes on Uttarayan:
- Guys fly kites.
- Dad/Grand Dad do the ground work of preparing kites, etc. for kids.
- Mom/Sisters assist guys while kite flying.
However, there’s much more than this.
You’ll witness 5-10 kites being flown from the same terrace. People of all ages from kids,dad,mom,uncle,etc. can be seen flying kites.
Before I proceed, I would like to explain the term “Pecha” i.e. the Indian word used for a kite fight, or Tangle as they refer to it.
If you’re one of those who wants to fly kites and not encounter a pecha, Gujarat is not the place for you. It’s a lot of insult to entire kite flying with that sophisticated style.
Simply put, pecha is THE thing that adds excitement to uttarayan.
With 5-10 kites flying from one terrace, you can very well imagine how many 1 on 1 pecha’s take place. Mostly, it ends up being 1 to n pecha. Once you win a pecha, the entire terrace comes to life with shouting, roaring and music system blowing out all woofers.
Although “kai po che” is most common phrase but my favorite is “Chalo bhai, bijji patang chadhai” i.e. “Ok Buddy, gotta fly a fresh kite” …lol
This pretty much goes the entire day with breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner being served at roof. I was resisting but food somehow comes into picture every now and then. Since it has, let me talk about the dish I had during Uttarayan i.e. “undhiyu”. It’s a traditional gujarati mixed vegetable dish which is served with puri and shrikhand. Irresistible !!!
Back to kites. Pecha go on during day and even at night. It’s a very unique experience to witness pecha’s at night. Basically, a big kite called “kandeel/tukkal” is air borne with a candle. Surrounding this will be 5-6 small kites. So, anyone who plans an attack needs to breach the boundary before trying hands on the throne. It’s is super fun to watch and a matter of pride to win a “tukkal” pecha.
That’s how a fun filled day ends only to give way to another one i.e. “Vasi Uttarayan”. It’s the second day of kite flying festival. Same things, more energy, super-duper fun.
Before I end, following are some things that are hard to believe before uttarayan but are proved by the time the festival goes by:
- No matter how many kites you buy, they will not suffice. Note even 500/day.
- Everyone experiences a darker complexion by the time Uttarayan is over.