Kites in the Pink City.
The sky is filled with kites. Hundreds of paper diamonds in every colour you can imagine. It’s a dazzling sight, compelling us to look up as we weave our way through the streets of Jaipur.
It was only the second day of our debut blog trip to India. The day before, we could tell something was about to happen. Excited murmurings in the streets, preparations underway for an event that didn’t look like it was about to disappoint. We asked some of the artisans what was going on. They looked at each other, unable to conceal their grins. The annual kite festival was coming. A day of celebration. A true spectacle.
The 14th January, Makar Sankrati, a Hindu festival celebrated across the whole of India. It’s a day that marks the sun moving from Sagittarius into Makar, Capricorn; a day that signifies the beginning of spring and the harvest; a day of kite flying as a symbol of celebration.
We watch as the festival touches every inch of Jaipur, known as the Pink City. In the Old Town, a place that’s normally a bustling Bazaar, we watch as shops pull down their roller doors, one by one. The occasional one remains open, selling extra kites for last minute buyers. Everything else is closed – the people are on the rooftops.
From the rooftop on which we stand, we look out over the city, awe-struck. For miles around, every single roof holds a cluster of friends and family, young and old. Indian music blares to distorted levels out of large speakers all over the city. There’s food and dancing, and kite strings that rise to dizzying heights far above.
The kite flying is more than just a whimsical activity; it’s a fun-fuelled competition that unites the whole city. Each person tries to fly for as long as possible, while attempting to sever the strings of the other kites in the sky. We were told that each person flies and loses 10-15 kites throughout the day. The amount of smiles though are countless. Fallen kites drift their way downwards, hanging from the trees and power lines, like accidental decorations.
As night beckons, the festivities are far from over. An array of aromatic Indian dishes are served with bread and rice with sweets to follow. The reels are put away and the night erupts, fireworks explode from every rooftop while lanterns slowly float, glowing softly in the darkness on a cool Rajasthani spring night.