Kites Festival

                         Makar Sankranti is the great traditional Indian kite festival. It falls on the 14th of January -- the only traditional Indian festival that falls on the same date every year. All other Indian festivals follow the lunar calendar, Makar Sankranti is the only one with a solar association -- it marks the transition of the sun into the Northern Hemisphere and is celebrated as a festival of life and fertility. Sweets made of molasses and sesame seeds are traditionally eaten on this day and whole cities come to a halt as everybody is on the rooftops, flying kites.

                         On Sankranti, in cities like Jaipur and Ahmedabad the whole sky is filled with kites - a million or more kites at the same time - all trying to cut each other down! This goes on all day - from before sunrise to after sunset. The whole family participates - lunch, tea and snacks are all served on the terrace; nobody goes indoors until it is too dark to fly anymore. And even then some people leave a kite flying through the night bearing aloft a paper lantern with a candle burning inside.

                         An interesting sidelight of Makar Sankranti is the poorer children who roam the streets, looking for kites that have been cut. The simple rule of "Finders Keepers" applies to any kite that's been cut and these children, too poor to afford buying even a simple paper kite, can still look forward to hours of fun with the kites they collect on Sankranti.

                         The international Desert Kite Festival is held every January in Jodhpur and Jaipur to coincide with Makar Sankranti and kite flyers from all over the world arrive to fly their own kites and participate in the riotous frenzy of Makar Sankranti by flying Indian fighter kites.

                         In Delhi kites are flown extensively on 26th January and 15th August - Republic Day and Independence Day.

                         It would be quite accurate to say that while kites are flown all over India as a part of various traditional festivals, Makar Sankranti is the one festival that is totally devoted to kites.

Know more about Makar Sankranti at http://www.makarsankranti.org/