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As high as a Kite
The tale of Makar Sankranti is held high by the beautiful kites that cover the sky like a canvas splattered with hues of colours.
The beautiful kites that encompass the sky near the days of Makar Sankranti; Image source: Hindustan Times

From the world of Religion and Spirituality

Sreeti ran with a Kite in her hand hoping it would stay up in the sky like her elder brother’s kite. Her elder brother, Srikant laughed as he saw her 10-year-old sister desperately trying to make her kite fly. He told her that it wasn't the right way and went on to lecture her on how to command the kite to stay upright.

Sreeti bored from the lecture told him, “Bhaiya, you take all the fun out of flying kites. It is supposed to be a thing of fun.” Srikant on the other hand replied, “Do you know that kites weren't made to have fun? It's an ancient tradition brought into the country by Chinese travellers like Huin Tsang and Fa Hein who used them to measure distances and signalling. Some were even used for military purposes. The kites used to be flat and rectangular.”

Sreeti looked at her beautiful kite and said, “But mine isn’t a rectangle. It looks like a diamond shape high up in the sky.” Srikant said, “ You are right. They have evolved and people fly kites during the days of Makar Sankranti.”

Sreeti further asked, “What’s Makar Sankranti and why do people fly kites on that day?”

Srikant began the story of Makar Sankranti,-

“We live in the land of farmers where the Sun god is considered the supreme power of all. Makar Sankranti is the day dedicated to Sun God as it marks the first day of the sun transitioning into the Capricorn (Makar) zodiac.

People see this day as the end of winter and celebrate the harvest of the Rabi Crop. The farmers having some money in hand after a tiresome crop season leaves no stone unturned in celebrating this day with utmost joy.

Do you know that Makar Sankranti is more of a local festival and is celebrated in various forms throughout the country? Like people in Assam call it ‘Magh Bihu’ or in Tamil Nadu as ‘Pongal.’ Just like in our house we eat Dahi-Chura with sweets like Gajak and Tilkuts, people from Tamil Nadu make a special dish called Pongal. Others make rangolis, sing songs, decorate their bulls and do many different things. But one of my personal favourite traditions of this festival is the - ‘Kite flying.’

Colourful kites of all shapes and sizes adorn the morning sky on Makar Sankranti. The reason behind it is that most traditions related to this day are about defeating the unyielding cold that past days brought us. As I already told you before, people see Makar Sankranti as a day that marks the end of shivering winters and ushers us into the bright beautiful sunny days. Like people eat tilkuts to keep their body warm, people fly kites to bask in the sun rays that finally bestows against after the unyielding cold.

We believe that the earth along with the Gods hibernates during the winters and us flying the kites is a signal to them that their time to wake up has come which is why colourful kites adorn the sky from the morning of Makar Sankranti.”

Sreeti after listening to it said, “Well, flying kites definitely makes this day way better. I love looking at the beautiful diamond kites in the sky”

Srikant said, “You know, kite flying is much more of a big deal in the state of Gujarat. They begin making kites a month before Makar Sankranti and this day is celebrated as the ‘International Kite Festival’ since 1989. They experience huge attraction from tourists all over the world. The kites overtake the sky and like a canvas shades of blue, green, red, yellow all across it. It’s a mesmerising sight.”

Sreeti all excited just by imagining the view said, “Bhaiya we must visit this place on Makar Sankranti when this pandemic ends. It will be so much fun.”

Srikant smiled warmly, “We certainly shall. But first, let’s teach you how to fly a kite.”

Astha Kumari Author
Currently a resident of neverland who is confused most of the time. Prefers to paint places that I am too lazy to visit and only bursts my bubble to yoke together my love for words and aesthetics.

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