DISCOVER TO GUJARATIS ON MAKARSANKRANTI

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THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR GUJARATIS ON MAKARSANKRANTI

The clear blue winter skies are enlivened by kites of every hue,Guest Posting¬†as men and women, boys and girls, gather on terraces to fly kites, and enjoy snacks and sweets made using fresh produce of harvest There is a spirit of friendly competition as each flyer skilfully manoeuvres the line to ‘cut’ other kites out of the air.

The kites flown on this day, called the Indian Fighter Kite, are made by expert ar-tisans. They are made from light weight paper stuck on a bamboo frame of a bridle and spars, with a tail for stability, The bal-anced construction of the kite makes it pos-sible for the flyer to manipulate them using a single line while withstanding reasonably strong air currents and gravity, lift and drag. The design, crafting and quality of materials determine the spin, pull and wind withstanding performance of the kite. Much detail goes into setting the bridle po-sition and balance of tension on the bamboo spars. The flyers use a line called the ‘Manilla’ to fly the fighter kites. This is typically a cotton thread coated with a mix-ture of finely crushed glass, glue and vari-ous abrasives. On the pavements of Gujarat’s cities, it is a common sight in January to watch manjha makers encrust-ing the threads with the mixture that gives it the cutting edge and reeling the line onto spools or bobbins called ‘phirkis’.

As the kite festival approaches, temporary markets come up in the cities and towns to sell kites and manjha. These markets are a hive of activity on the eve of Uttrayana, with buyers gathering to select the best kites and lines for the festival days. The markets in the cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot. Bhavnagar, etc, are vibrant and activity. Shops decorate their frontage with orna-mented kites, schools and clubs hold com-petitions for kite flying, kite decoration and kite painting, and many announcements are made for kite flying events.

On 14th January, the residential areas come alive with kites. The rooftops throng with kite flyers, their family and friends, with blaring music and joyous yelling adding to the festive atmosphere. Since Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival, cel- celebrating the arrival of warm sunshine to the northern tropics, food is very much part of the celebrations. Sugarcane, juices, sweets and snacks made from the regional produce like groundnuts, grains and sesame seeds are regulars on the rooftops. In most parts of Gujarat, the sought-after dish for lunch is Undhiyu, a variety of veg-etables cooked In spices, This is a winter fa-vourite of almost every Gujarati family, looked forward to in January when many vegetables are in season. An undhiyu com-prises green beans, kand (purple yam), muthiyas which are like gram flour kebabs often coated with green vegetables, sea-sonal green vegetables and gourds, cooked in a variety of spices. Traditionally, this is a casserole with the vegetables roasted in an earthenware pot, burled upside-down in the ground, and hence the name Matka Un-dhiyu. matka for the pot and undhiyu for the upside down position In which it is fired. While Matka Undhiyu is a delicacy, specially in the fertile regions of Surat and Khambatt, there are now various fried, steamed and pot-roasted versions. Along the southern coast of Gujarat, undhiyu often has herbs, grated coconuts, palm sugar and lentils. Undhiyu is usually eaten with purl. With growing health conscious-ness, baked or steamed low-oil Undhiyus are now served with rotas.

The maximum excitement is generated by the kite fights, called pench, which are in-formal line cutting contests_ The idea is to manipulate the kite by pulling or releasing the string, which will make it go slower or faster, curve a graceful arc or spin on a wing tip. Line management is a vital part of flying a fighter kite. By releasing the line and ap-plying tension at the right moments, the kite will move in the direction that the flyer requires Once two lines are in contact, the respective flyers will work on pull cutting or release cutting methods to win the fight. It is a test of the construction and quality of the kite, the quality of the manilla, and the skill of the flyer. When a kite flyer is suc-cessful in cutting another kite off its line, there is much excitement on the flier’s roof-top with yells of ‘kaade, kaade’ or lopyo chile’ (well cut). It is a picnic atmosphere on the terraces where families and friends munch sugarcane. ‘chikkis”. snacks, fruits and vegetables typical of the January har-vest season, enjoy alfresco lunches of un-dhiyu, and root for kite flyers during the pench’.

After dark, tukuls ( paper lanterns carrying lit candles ) are tied to the strings of large kites. The night skies are a stunning sight with lanterns suspended In the air. Spec-tacular displays of fireworks burst out in the night sky to mark the end of the day. Kite flying often continues on the next day to use up the balance kites.

The best places to experience the excite-ment of the kite festival is in old quarters of Gujarat’s cities, like the ‘pols’ of Ahmedabad where there is a large concen-tration of kite flyers.

celebrating the arrival of warm sunshine to the northern tropics, food is very much part of the celebrations. Sugarcane, juices, sweets and snacks made from the regional produce like groundnuts, grains and sesame seeds are regulars on the rooftops. In most parts of Gujarat, the sought-after dish for lunch is Undhiyu, a variety of veg-etables cooked In spices, This is a winter fa-vourite of almost every Gujarati family, looked forward to in January when many vegetables are in season. An undhiyu com-prises green beans, kand (purple yam), muthiyas which are like gram flour kebabs often coated with green vegetables, sea-sonal green vegetables and gourds, cooked in a variety of spices. Traditionally, this is a casserole with the vegetables roasted in an earthenware pot, burled upside-down in the ground, and hence the name Matka Un-dhiyu. matka for the pot and undhiyu for the upside down position In which it is fired. While Matka Undhiyu is a delicacy, specially in the fertile regions of Surat and Khambatt, there are now various fried, steamed and pot-roasted versions. Along the southern coast of Gujarat, undhiyu often has herbs, grated coconuts, palm sugar and lentils. Undhiyu is usually eaten with purl. With growing health conscious-ness, baked or steamed low-oil Undhiyus are now served with Best of Gujarat Tour. kite kurz

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