Every Year January14 is celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti – heralding the transition of the sun into the Northern hemisphere. It is also a big kite day in most parts of India when children and adults from 6 to 60 can be seen with their heads turned to the sky. In Jaipur kites virtually blot out the sky. Everyone joins in this riotous celebration and shouts of ” Woh Kata !” reverberate from rooftops to the accompaniment of drums as adversaries’ kites are cut down. And everyone’s an adversary! Any kite in the sky is fair game.
The three-day festival starts with an inauguration at the Polo Ground, which is the venue for some serious kite flying and fighting for the three days of the festival. The festival includes two kinds of celebration. A massive extravaganza follows, with Air Force helicopters releasing kites from the sky, and hundreds of schoolchildren releasing balloons. Kites that look like wasps, exquisite stained glass windows, and graceful mythical birds soar in the sky and the sky shimmers with magic.
Fighting kites beautifully choreographed by the wind look like poetry in the skies, written by kite flyers from many nations. The three days of the festival are divided into two sections. One is the Fighter Kite Competition and the other is the more sober Display Flying and there are prestigious trophies to be won in both categories. Every evening participants are provided with dinner at any of the exotic locations.
On the final day the venue of the festival shifts to the exquisite lawns of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, the royal residence of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. The finals of the Fighter Kite Competition and the final judging of the Display Kites are followed by the prize distribution ceremony, the valedictory function, and a farewell dinner with the Maharaja. As the festival draws to an end, traditional Indian kite craftsmen prepare to return to their humdrum lives, selling handcrafted aerial art for mere pennies.