April 29, 2013


Each January the Ahmedabad sky is filled with a host of kites during Uttarayan. For a few special days most everyone in the capital city of Gujarat becomes a kite enthusiast, whether personally navigating their own winged wonder or merely standing upon one of the thousands of rooftops in the city and gazing up at the mesmerizing spectacle taking place in the sky above. Uttarayan is a festival celebrating the end of winter. The auspicious date on the Hindu calendar is also known as Makar Sankranti.

With the onset of harvest season, there is always hope for a brighter future. Although Gujarat is a dry state, spirits are high during this time. A group of youth have congregated on top of the roof of a school, and I make my way up a dark staircase and join them at the top. A few kites are rotated among the more eager youngsters, while the rest just enjoy the warmth of the sun and the sight of a thousand kites dancing in the heavens.

Flying kites was originally a hobby exclusively enjoyed by the Nawabs that ruled the region, but it soon spread to the common man. Just like the individuals on the ground who are guiding them with steady hands, the kites come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.  Families start building their kites months in advance. Unlike the girls of Gangnam, each handcrafted kite has a personality all its own.

A gentle breeze lifts the kites into the clear blue sky. The slightest adjustment from the kite flyer causes his aerial steed to change course. Part of the fun of kite flying is the competitive aspect. The kite strings are coated with fragments of glass, designed to slice through opposing kites without mercy. Friendly duels take place among kites sharing the same airspace. As one kite string slices through that of a foe, the victor soars on while the vanquished flutters back down to earth.


Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. ~ Anais Nin