Uttarayan is around the corner. Most kite enthusiasts have already purchased their ‘manja’- the string used, Kites and are waiting for the day to come. The market is full of the ‘patang’ stores and the ‘manja’ makers, who put on display the collection of latest kites and string. People can be seen setting up the now common DJ systems on their terraces to add that extra spice and fun to the festivities. The entire household is in one way or the other involved in it. Children purchase kites, hundreds in number and make sure that they have the best string. The entire family sits down and ties the ‘kinna’, the knots to be tied on a kite before flying it. The mothers and female members of the family prepares special delicacies to be eaten on the day.
Purchasing the right kind of kite is an art in itself. There is a wide variety of colourful kites available now. Kites made of plastic, paper, the giant ones, the small ones for children, the sparkling ones- you can find them all in a street side shop. The Chil and the rocket kites are famous among the masses.
Next comes the string used- the ‘manja’. You must have good quality string to engage and win the kite fights. The normal manja is coated with egg white, gum and finely powdered glass. You can choose the string from a wide variety of brands. A sharp string wins you many battles but they pose a serious threat to the birds. Many cases of bird injuries are reported each year. Animal rights activists have repeatedly demanded banning such strings. Besides birds, the string also poses a serious threat to humans. Especially people travelling on bikes and cycles are vulnerable to the loose strings hanging from lamp posts and buildings.
This festival is not just about flying kites, indulging in kite-fighting and yelling “kaaypo che” upon cutting someone’s kite. Various delicacies are also prepared on this occasion. Some of the common recipes are: Chikki, Jalebi,fafda, Undhiyu, Lilva Kachori etc. Folks constantly munch something or the other throughout the day and rarely leave the terrace to have lunch.
Youngsters, who are always on the lookout for something new and interesting assemble speakers and DJ systems on the rooftops. Music is played loud on many terraces. Expect a Gangnam Style Uttarayan this season!
Kite runners have a merry day on Uttarayan. Kite runners collects the kites that have been cut-off after a kite fight. Later these folks either sell out their ‘loot’ or later fly them themselves. Kite-running is a risky affair. While running after a kite, they run across the roads and busy streets risking themselves and people around them.
So folks, get ready to enjoy the festival. At the same time play it safe. Follow the rules and regulations set by the local authorities to ensure the safety of animals, birds and humans. Have a happy Uttarayan!