Flying Kites in Gujarat
What a time we've had ...
Dancers at the opening ceremony of IKF Gujarat 2020 in Saputara. Photo by Nikunj Raghvani.
Team KAP Jasa was again invited to Gujarat, India - to represent Slovenia at of the largest kite festivals in the world, International Kite Festival Gujarat 2020.
The festival took place in Ahmedabad and numerous other cities of Gujarat from 7th to 14th January, leading up to the great holiday of Uttarayan.
And it was a-ma-zing!
Slovenia at the opening ceremony of IKF Gujarat 2020
Crowds of kite lovers at the opening ceremony
Thousands came to see our kites fly
Flying kites all around Gujarat
This year we were invited to show our kites and our kite flying skills not only in Ahmedabad, but in other cities and places around Gujarat too. From Vadodara to Kevadiya and the impossibly enormous Statue of Unity, from Surat the diamond city to hill station of Saputara ... everywhere we were overwhelmed by local hospitality, by the passion for kites of Gujarati people, by rich history and culture of this beautiful Indian state.
Kites up in Saputara! Photo by Nikunj Raghvani.
But the real deal was the travel itself. Spending hours on the bus navigating through the proverbial Indian traffic formed bonds between us. Sitting in the front with Gadis and Bob and Todd and Sergey and our travel master Shabaz we were like those guys in school sitting at the back of the class: always joking and doing crazy pranks and having so much fun those hundreds of kilometers passed like nothing.
The best bus driver ever
Kite flying in such beautiful places, meeting hundreds of eager kite lovers from all across India, seeing the most incredible flying object that defy imagination ... an experience of a lifetime.
Kites up in Surat
Crowded skies of Saputara
Our giant dog takes off in Vadodara
Robert takes it easy
The pirate dog
Doing an interview while flying
Can I try, mister?
Trouble with police
Gregor adresses the crowd at the opening ceremony in Surat
Kite flying is for everyone
Kite aerial photography
Yes, we did some KAP, and one of the sessions was really spectacular. But that's for another post ... have a teaser though! ;-)
Angel kite by Karl Longbottom, flown by Bob Cruikshanks
The real kite masters
We knew about them, and were warned about them. Our first encounter with them was in Vadodara: first a big Spanish delta suddenly flew away, and moments later the big Ukraininan trilobite landed on the tree, their lines being cut. They are manjha wielding, patang flying kite masters of Gujarat. Don't fly your kites high when they are around!
Young patang master describing the tricks
Patang is a small paper kite, incredibly agile and manoeauvrable for a single liner, and it is flown on a manjha - a coloured cotton string covered with glue and broken glass. The line is designed to cut other kite lines, and the art of fighting with kites is awe-inspiring. People of Gujarat start flying patangs as soon as they learn to walk, and their expert maneouvring is truly incredible.
Patang masters of Kevadiya
When manjhas appeared over the kite field in Ahmedabad the organizers enlisted a patang master to guard the skies. Soon an evil patang appeared above, and we were witnessing an epic fight between two of the best patang fliers in Gujarat.
Good manjha vesus bad manjha
Our guy won, the sky was free again. But almost all of us felt a bit bad: we kite fliers from all over the world are good, but they are better - shouldn't they be the real stars of IKF Gujarat?
Master Dru and master Jamini
The beauty of Uttarayan
Makara Sankranti - or Uttarayan as it is known in Gujarat - is a big holiday in India, celebrating the end of winter. In Gujarat people celebrate Uttarayan by flying kites - the kites are a direct line to gods above, and they can ask them about the next harvest.
And flying kites on Uttarayan is completely crazy ... over ten million paper kites are sold in the week leading to the holiday, and over 300.000 kilometers of kite line (mostly manjhas, of course). The skies above (and later the streets below) are chocked full of patangs flying and fighting and falling down when the line is cut, accompanied by cries of "Kai po che!" - it fell!
We were invited on a rooftop of a home in the Old walled city of Ahmedabad, a UNESCO World Heritage site. After negotiating some narrow and steep flights of stairs we opened the door to the terrace - suddenly our breath was taken away ...
The most incredible view ...
Nothing can describe millions - yes, millions! - of kites flying above an old city. Every rooftop, every terrace is full of dressed-up people, there is music and food and drinks, and then there are kites. Heaps of patangs and miles and miles of manjhas ... Please, sir: take one, try it!
And try we did. Not with much success - patangs are difficult beasts to fly, and the real masters cut your line as soon as you lift it up - but it was so much fun. We brought 50 of patangs home (would bring more, but there are airplane baggage restrictions) to practice - next year we shall be a force to be reckoned with!
Gregor and Bob join the fight
It was fun and amazing and beautiful. And it was so because of you, intrepid organizers of the festival in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Kevadiya and Saputara, because of Gujarat Tourism corporation, because of all you crazy kite fliers - and especially you, Gadis!; because of the fantastic dinner madam Rao with her daughter and husband prepared for us; because of you, Cisca and Peter - we hope to see you and Boris in Slovenia! - and of course because of you, Žare and Darko and Žuža from Zmajoljupci Kite Lovers Club who started it all for us.
Cisca and Peter
Jordi and Žare
Dinner at the Rao residence
It was because of you, Sergey from Vladivostok, who made our new Rokkaku fly again; because of you, Bob, your jokes and your kites; because of you Robert - and you, Todd - and you, dear Rajesh ... and you, Shahir (thanks again for the present from One India Kite Team!) ... and it was because of you, Shesh Tomar, and your fantastic site localahmedabad.com.
Bob the legend
Master of ceremonies
and at last it was because of you, Shahbaz - our travel master, our guide, our friend.
It was because of all of you crazy, funny, lovable people.
We will meet again soon, somewhere on a field, with a kite line in hand!
And you know what we shall sing:
And, of course, a big thanks to our first and best sponsor - BUNA fair trade cooperative and Cafe Cokl (best coffee in Ljubljana!) kindly provided us with some first-grade coffee, Arabica cattura from Coop. de Occidente, Antioquia, Colombia!
That coffee saved lives in the harsh Gujarati environment, and nourished the poor coffee-less kite flyers back to health.