INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL, JODHPUR
FACTS & FIGURES
Time of the year - Mid January
India holds a unique position in the world due to its various festivals that are distinctive and attractive and each one is special in itself. The kite festival of Jodhpur is one such festival, which is celebrated with great zeal and zest. Started just a few years ago, the desert kite festival is becoming more and more popular among kite fliers all over the world. The best kite flyers from India and abroad take part in this splendid celebration of the art of kite flying.
January 14 is celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti or the day of transition of the sun into the northern hemisphere. It is also a day inextricably related to kites in most parts of India. Children from 6 to 60 can be seen concentrating on their colorful kites with their heads turned to the sky. In cities like Jaipur and Ahmedabad kites practically blot out the sky. Everyone joins in this uncontrolled celebration and shouts of " Woh Kata Hai" reverberate from rooftops to the accompaniment of drums as adversaries' kites are cut down. Here everyone's an adversary and every kite in the sky, fair game. And it is better not to put up the Egos or Flexi foils, or Sky Tigers, or Revolutions or any other fancy kites in the midst of all the fighter kites.
The three-day festival starts with an inauguration at the Polo Ground, which is the venue for some serious kite flying and fighting for the three days of the festival. The festival includes two kinds of celebrations. A massive extravaganza follows, with Air Force helicopters releasing kites from the sky, and hundreds of schoolchildren releasing balloons. Kites that look like wasps, exquisite stained glass windows, graceful mythical birds soar in the sky and the sky shimmers with magic.
Fighting kites beautifully choreographed by the wind look like poetry in the skies, written by kite flyers from many nations. The three days of the festival are divided into two sections. One is the Fighter Kite Competition and the other is the more sober Display Flying and there are prestigious trophies to be won in both categories. Every evening participants are provided with dinner at an exotic location.
On the final day the venue of the festival shifts to the exquisite lawns of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, the royal residence of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. The finals of the Fighter Kite Competition and the final judging of the Display Kites are followed by the prize distribution ceremony, the valedictory function, and a farewell dinner with the Maharaja. As the festival draws to an end, traditional Indian kite craftsmen prepare to return to their humdrum lives, selling handcrafted aerial art for mere pennies.
Started just few years ago, this festival has got no mythological connections or legends attached to it. Currently, this sport is witnessing a major revival globally and India, with its ancient tradition of kite flying, could benefit from becoming a part of the international kite flying community.
PLACES TO VISIT
The recommended places to visit to witness the magnificent kite flying festival would be Jodhpur, the desert city of Rajasthan and Ahmedabad, the second largest city of Gujarat. In these two cities, kites practically blot out the sky. In Delhi, the capital of India, kites are flown in the sky to mark the celebration of the Independence Day of India on August 15 every year.