Ahmedabad kicked off the 28th International Kite Festival this year at the scenic Sabarmati Riverfront with pomp and grandeur to celebrate Uttarayan. The weeklong festival started on 8th January and will continue till 14th January, with over 198 kite flyers participating.
What started as a small festival in the year 1989 as an initiative by the state of Gujarat has now grown by leaps and bounds, having turned into a festival of international importance. Over 31 countries, including Turkey, Vietnam, Lithuania, Brazil, USA, Australia came over with unique and peculiar kites - designs never imagined before, and made the Kite Festival one not to be missed. Even 8 other Indian States like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan displayed their culture and creativity against the canvas of the sky. Also, many cities from Gujarat came in teams to show what they had in store for the most important festival of the year.
The Governor of the state Shri OP Kohli inaugurated the event in the presence of Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijaybhai Rupani and a number of other dignitaries and flew kites in the main arena also! To add to the pleasantries, 2000 children performed the Suryanamaskar that was a really commendable effort to start off such a prestigious event.
Outside the kite-flying arena on the Sabarmati Riverfront, there were a number of handicraft and handloom stalls, as well as lip-smacking delicacies for the enthusiastic visitors who flocked in early morning to see a sky full of kites.
The strange and beautiful kites, big, small, of different shapes and colours and concepts, each depicting a story, attracted roars from the crowd as they soared up and up in the air! The kite flyers were of all ages – from 90 year olds to 3 year old kids, families, friends, kite collectors and makers who came together to create one successful festival with colours high up in the sky.
Uttarayan is celebrated to mark the onset of the harvest season, and is celebrated in various ways throughout the country – Pongal in the south, Bihu in Assam, Lohri in Punjab and so on. In the season where the pleasant wind from the river blows with a soft chill, carrying the kites as far as the eyes can see, the Sabarmati Riverfront proved to be the most ideal spot for people across the world to witness the Kite Festival that the state is so well known for. The Kite Festival is being celebrated in other cities of Gujarat simultaneously as well.
By hosting such festivals, the state of Gujarat is not only attracting tourists from all over the world, thereby developing tourism, but also facilitating the livelihoods of thousands who are associated in the process. The economic growth has also been positively impacted and the state is in talks with the tourism boards of Telengana and Rajasthan to have collaborative festivals to enhance tourism further. A noble initiative indeed, and quite a gala one at that!