Gujarat celebrating the Kite Flying Festival to mark Makar Sankranti, Uttarayan

Gandhinagar: Gujarat is celebrating the Kite flying festival today to mark the occasion of Uttarayan – Makar Sankranti. While Uttarayan is only today, the Kite flying festival is two days long and will continue to be celebrated tomorrow.

The people across Gujarat went to their rooftops, and terraces early in the morning to fly kites. The markets that sell kites, firki (thread), and other items for the celebration of the Uttarayan festival were busy till late in the night.  People in Gujarat eat sugarcane, bor fruit, tal sankli, chikki, laddu, and other items during this festival. Traditional Gujarati food items like Undhiyu and Khichdo are also cooked to mark this festival.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel celebrated the festival at Dariyapur-based Taliya ni pol where he started his political career years ago before shifting to the Western part of Ahmedabad. Union Home minister Amit Shah started celebrating Uttarayan at Jagannath Mandir in Jamalpur area in Ahmedabad with his family. He then went to Venus Parkland society in the Vejalpur area of his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency and celebrated the festival. Shah accompanied by his wife purchased kite and thread from a make-shift stall set up in the society. He also purchased Bor fruit and other items from the food shop created there ahead of his visit. Shah assisted by Vejalpur BJP legislator Amit Thaker flew the kite while the firki was handled by city BJP chief Amit Popatlal Shah.  A red carpet was laid for Shah’s welcome in the society. The members of the society played Garba and gave traditional welcome.

There have been several cases of deaths and injuries due to lethal kite strings ahead of the Kite flying festival. In view of this, the Surat City Police has banned the movements of two-wheelers on all over-bridges. Policemen were deployed at both ends of overbridges to prevent the entry of two-wheelers. At least two deaths are reported on account of Uttarayan-linked accidents. In Visnagar, a 4-year-old girl died after a lethal kite thread cut her throat. In Vadodara also a two-wheeler rider died due to a lethal kite thread when he was passing on an overbridge.

Thousands of birds suffer injuries due to lethal kite thread before, during, and after Uttarayan. The State government has launched Karuna Abhiyan for the rescue, treatment, and release of injured birds from 10th to 20th January.  100s of birds had arrived at treatment facilities of the State government’s forest and animal husbandry departments by noon itself. Several Jeev Daya voluntary organizations also joined in the rescue missions.

Minister of State for Home, Harsh Sanghavi who celebrated the festival at the sea coast of Surat said that Uttarayan should be celebrated by not hurting any life. He said those who have somehow managed to buy Chinese thread, and those who have purchased glass-paved thread must not use it.

The trend of celebrating Uttarayan atop the terraces in Pol areas of the walled city Ahmedabad continued to prevail this year too. The terraces in the Pol area were obtained on rent by rich people who live in Western Ahmedabad. Reliance’s group president and Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani posted a photo of him celebrating the kite flying festival in Dhal ni Pol in the Khadia area.

Uttarayan is also celebrated by the people of Gujarat by offering donations in the temples and fodder to cows. A heavy rush of people at various temples and Gaushalas could be seen offering donations and serving the cows.

Uttarayan day is also considered as the day on which the great ruler of Gujarat Siddharaj Solanki passed away. For this reason, Siddhpur town in Patan district in North Gujarat doesn’t celebrate Uttarayan on 14th January. Siddhpur celebrates kite flying on Dussehra instead of Uttarayan every year. Number of local leaders and the district collector garlanded Siddhraj Jaysimh’s statue in Patan.