India Celebrates Kite Festival
Yesterday, a majority of children in India got to take a day off from school, just so that they could spend the day flying kites! Welcome to India's colorful Kite Flying festival, held annually on January 14th.
While the origins of the festival are sketchy, it coincides with a harvest festival called Makar Sankranti, and may have been started to celebrate a good crop season.
The city's International Kite Flying festival, now in its 20th year, attracts kite enthusiasts from all over the world, and this year was no exception. More than 103 kite flyers representing 34 countries, along with 120 kite flyers from different states of India, flocked to the city to display their bright and beautiful flying machines and, to demonstrate their superior kite flying skills.
Each year, the kites get bigger and more elaborate. This year's standouts included a giant airplane, a kite that resembled a UFO and a number of depictions of Indian deities.
Amongst the kite flyers that showcased their skills was a local man, who mesmerized the crowd by flying 110 kites on one string. Not to be left behind, Switzerland's Carlo Pitonzo, flew three kites simultaneously.
While kites are flown all day, the evening is when the fun really begins. Entire families gather on their rooftops or balconies and attempt to try and 'cut' their neighbors kite strings. The normally bustling streets of the city are empty except for kite runners, who try and collect as many of the fallen kites as they can. It is estimated that each family goes through about a 100 kites during the day.
And, if this is not fun enough, the kids also get to look forward to another tradition. At the end of the day, they receive rice crispy-like treats that have coins ranging from 10 paisa to 1 rupee, hidden inside. While the money is exciting, it is more the suspense of what they will get after munching through their tasty treat, that makes it even more fun. What a great tradition!