Kites have been part of world culture for time out of mind, the light and airy nature of these ephemeral objects of sky-bound beauty seems to have captured the imagination of people everywhere. It’s no surprise then that there is an international holiday dedicated to this fantastic event. International Kite Day breaks the boundaries of culture, able to be celebrated by every religion and to have permutations of every kind celebrating every background. Who knew that a simple kite and string could be a symbol of peace?
History of the Kite
Technically speaking a kite is simply a ‘tethered heavier-than-air’ craft, and the variations on how this device can be constructed are limitless within the realm of aerodynamics. Using the natural forces of interaction with the air to sustain it’s lift and to perform the many sky dances that are within it’s power, kites range from light fairylike creations to gigantic constructions like those flown at the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan.
Kites originated in China, taking advantage of the light but strong nature of silk to make the fabric for the wings of the kite, and to lend control via light silken string. The bamboo that’s native to the area also has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, and served as the perfect framework. The first evidence of kites ranges back to 549AD, and from there it spread around the world.
The Kite Festival
It wasn’t long after this that kite technology found its way to India, and within just a few hundred years they became a symbol of the nation, being flown in multiple festivals throughout the year. The most significant to the kite, as you might imagine, is International Kite Day. Thousands of kites fill the air over Gujarat, India every year, and Makar-Sakranti (as it’s called locally) is partially used to recognize the returning spring.
People from all over the world make the trek to Gujarat each year to take their kites to the air, in a massive multi-national celebration of these airborne works of art. Such is the importance of the holiday that much of Gujarat’s economy around this time of year is dedicated to the kite.
Celebrating it at home
Along with the endless variety of kites, there are important foods that represent this holiday, researching into some traditional Indian foods served this time of year will give you a culinary foundation to a fun and beautiful holiday.
Gather friends and family together for a day of high flying fun, and when night falls you can transfer over from your day kites, to special illuminated night kites that soar through the breeze like lanterns in the sky. If you and your family have a love of incredible India, then this is a great day to celebrate it all together.