Rubik’s cubes, red horses and UFOs: Kite shapes at international festival
- Creativity was the winner at the latest edition of the International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad
- In Gujarat, kites are traditionally flown on Makar Sakranti to mark the beginning of Uttarayan
The traditional sport of kite-flying has been transformed into an annual international festival in Gujarat, bringing together 45 nations vying to outdo each other in building colourful kites. Neck craned to the sky, my eyes leapt from a pair of giant tigers to a huge red horse, cartoon characters, even Lord Ganesh.
In Gujarat, kites are traditionally flown on Makar Sakranti to mark the beginning of Uttarayan, when the winter chill begins to make way for spring. At the International Kite Festival, held by the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad from 6-14 January, the sport’s competitive element, with participants attempting to cut each other’s kites, was replaced by a display of artistry. The bigger, the more colourful, the more imaginative the kite, the better.
They were impressive: a ring-shaped kite with a 21ft diameter, a Rubik’s cube, a red horse, and an UFO. Then there were indigenous kites from countries with a kite-flying tradition, like the wau balang from Malaysia, layang layang from Indonesia, and silk kites from China. Flying these huge kites requires a different sort of skill, since keeping the mammoth contraptions in the air can be hard. Ahmedabad’s master kite flyer, Rasulbhai Rahimbhai, who has achieved fame for flying 500 kites attached to a single string, was also present at the festival, showcasing his skill.