These men are preparing the string by rubbing it with the pink substance made of minuscule crushed glass. Why you might ask? The kite festival is an competitive event where kite fliers have bragging rights for the year if their kite is last in the sky. Yes, “kiters” use their string to cut the string of the competition.
Little girls run through the streets to collect the fallen kites.
The most coveted spot for kite gazing is the roof of one of the ancient wooden houses just inside the walls of the city in a section called The Pols. Lying on your back in the center grass of one of the huge stadiums is also popular. We were very happy that at our hostel was a visiting professor from Canada who had friends in the Pols. These very generous Indian people offered us an invitation to see their restored home, and climb stairs and ladders to the roof for an unforgettable view of Uttarayan.
Notice the swing in their living room. https://talesalongtheway.com/2013/10/18/back-and-forth/
Directly above was a open skylight. During monsoon, the rain pours into this space, onto the floor ,and down a drain into a cistern which holds the water for the house. Another innovation born from necessity. This house was renovated for renting to visitors. We thought it would be a wonderful place for students to live while studying in Ahmedabad, but the drawback was the distance to CEPT University.
The vivid colors were only rivaled by the colorful saris of the women.
Arriving on the roof takes effort, but the view is worth it. People could step between roofs and climb on the raised sections, and even step onto a neighbor’s roof. Everyone wanted to be as near the sky as possible.
Some of the students and our Canadian friend enjoy the day. She comes yearly to teach English to post-college students. She taught primarily writing to students with advanced degrees , MBA, architecture, medicine, and ITT. Most educated Indian young people dream of going to America to “live the dream.” Proficient English is a mandatory skill.
Jainism, one of the Indian religions born from Hinduism, has a tenet of total nonviolence toward all creatures. They were very upset by the possibility of hurting or killing the birds from the leftover trash as well as flying the kites. Very near to where we were, was a large Jain Temple. During the kite festival , they are open with veterinarians and other trained people to help animals and birds hurt during the celebration. We never saw this but read about it, that extremely devout Jains will wear masks over their mouths, and sweep or have a sweeper clean their path so as not to hurt even an ant as they walk.
After a number of hours watching and flying kits as dust began to fall, we were invited to share in the evening meal. Imagine just inviting 13 extra people for dinner on the spur of the moment.
The meal was even complete with a kite cake. As we ate, the Indian guests and hosts would move from group to group to ask us questions. We were even invited to other people’s homes. Such generous hospitality.
Tomorrow, I will show you how the festivity continues even as night falls!
This Is Incredible India!
Some images are from Google, Public Domain