Jaipur is known to celebrate each and every festival with unconditional zest but the one closest to our hearts is Makar Sankranti. The kite flying festival is undoubtedly the city’s favourite. Only a true Jaipurite knows the charm of the festival. It’s not just flying a bunch of kites covering the sky on the 14th of the month but something way more than that. Thousands of bedazzling kites colour the sky, the sound of ‘Woh kaaate’ and music fills the air and the aroma of food fills the heart with joy.
Let’s take a look at the festival from the eyes of a true patangbaaz.
1. Getting the kites
Jaipurites don’t just buy any kite they come across, it’s only after a lot of thought and calculation that they buy the kites that match with their personality. The task isn’t easy. You have to check the weight, assume the wind speed on that day keeping in mind the current weather, the number of people flying it with you and in the end come the color and cost of the kite. Handipura, Kishanpol Bazar and Haldiyon Ka Rasta are the hub of these handcrafted flying beauties in the city at this time of the season. People buy around a hundred kites a few days before and it’s only common to spot people holding kites with more care than while holding a baby.
2. Prepping for flying
What happens the night before is extremely important. There’s an evening dedicated to prepare the kite for flying by putting ‘tang’ on it. All sharp, pointy objects and agarbattis come into play to punch four perfectly round holes into the kite. These are then tied precisely with a ‘Sadda’. Detonating a bomb is easier than tying proper tang. Too small, and the kite becomes heavy, too big and the kite goes out of control. Only a very few know the science behind it.
Manjha is for the ones who have courage enough to become a part of the battle and sadda is for beginners. Every child remembers being handed over sadda and the immeasurable longing to fly kites with manjha. People fill their charkhis with the best and most trenchant of manjhas even if it leaves the user with deep cuts on their fingers. Then of course there are endless ways to cover these wounds till the doctor’s tape is pierced again.
4. The battlefield
The picture of the festival is no different from that of war. There’s everyone involved, there’s blood and screaming, there’s chaos, aggression and betrayal and of course, there are weapons of war.
You can ring the bells of their homes all you want but there’ll come no response as Jaipurites remain on their terrace on the 14th. Even the ones who have trouble climbing, gather all the courage to battle the flight of stairs. Everyone sets up their music system one day before and play it at a volume slightly higher than that of their neighbour.
Kite flying is a constant affair, you have to keep it flying, check for nearby challengers and bring them down, soar it as far as it can go, scream your head off until your opponent feels humiliated, catch the kite that has just lost the battle and so many other tasks at a time.
5. Roles of all ages
While the older ones sit back and comment on the technique to win the fight, younger ones, sadly, are given with the responsibility of holding charkhis, rolling the manjha back into the charkhis, bringing water bottles from downstairs and the like. It is the population lying between these two that participates actively in the ‘dangal’.
6. Jargons of the festival
There are certain terms used while kite flying that only a Jaipurite is familiar with. Here’s for you a few to familiarize yourself with the vocab.
Vo kaataa, tang dalna, pench ladana, dheel dena, lapetna , thudda/kaakh modna, dangal ladana, patang lootna, jujja daalna and anti banana.
7. Festive Food
Daal Ke Pakore,, Daal-Baati-Churma, Bajre Ka Khichra, Sooji Ka Sheera, Paushbara, are some of the few must have of the festival. The day is incomplete without sweets like pheeni, gajak, rewari and til ke ladoo.
8. Lanterns and Firework
The city flies kites till it becomes barely visible in the night sky. To keep the festivity going, kites are replaced by paper lanterns that cover the sky beautifully like shooting starts. Fireworks mark the end of the festival and leave Jaipur with new hopes for the next Sakranti.
This is how we, in Jaipur, celebrate our favourite festival. Do join us this Makar Sakranti and add to the little colourful dots that light up our sky.
Blog credits: Siddhi Modi, and intern at Jaipur Beat.