Makar Sankranti (Sakraat) - Kite Festival

#1 Jan 13th, 2016, 16:32
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Pan India, a series of harvest festivals heralding the arrival of Spring kick off today. The first two below are remarkable as the date is set by the solar calendar (the Sun moves into Capricorn zodiac tomorrow) - very rare for an Indian festival. In the North we have Lohri which will be marked by a bonfire in the evening and dancing / singing - predominantly by Punjabis.

Tomorrow is Sankranti or Sakraat. The day in Jaipur, everyone's up at their rooftops from dawn till sunset, attempting competitive kite flying. Here's a little shop tucked deep inside the walled city.



Some seasonal sweets are also consumed - increasingly rare to see Tilkut made traditionally. Sesame seeds are milled and cane jaggery is mixed. Coconut optional. It's oily, messy to eat and delicious. Must be made using a wooden implement for best taste - cold pressed.
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Other notable til (sesame) items consumed tomorrow include Tilsakri, Gajak and Tipapdi - all involve the same two ingredients, but different recipes that result in entirely different outcomes (Some seen on the right)
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I dont have any Pongal photos but if someone else would add them, that'd be nice.

Happy Lohri.
Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Jan 15th, 2016 at 23:30..
#2 Jan 14th, 2016, 07:12
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I love tilkut. It used to be my job to pound sesame seeds with bura (a kind of sugar) to make tilkut at home. Gajjaks and reveris used to be one of the highlights.
#3 Jan 14th, 2016, 07:53
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Lohri in North = Bhogi in South. Same rituals and same stuff with singing/dancing/eating etc, but bonfire happens at dawn, first thing in the morning.

The thing that I miss the most during Sankranti is kite flying.A large group of friends used to gather on roof top for some serious kite flying and competitions. It gets quite competitive and aggressive with shouting, challenging, dirty tricks to cut off the kites. I used to be an expert in one technique - to manoeuvre a heavy kite at high altitude over long distances and bring it over swiftly down at lightning speed over a kite flying at lower altitude, and cut it off even before the flyer realizes what happened and then poke fun at the group by shouting, cat calls and whistles!

Usually, the weight of the kite and sharpness of thread determines the outcome but flying skill is equally important. Need to know the direction of attack, wind speed otherwise you will loose in less than a second.

And ofcourse all those special sweets. In the country side, it's cock fights.
#4 Jan 14th, 2016, 09:19
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I was never much of a kite flyer. I used to hold the charkhi for the experts. i did bring some kit with me when I moved here. I used to fly them on the beach. I still have one left somewhere in the house.
#5 Jan 14th, 2016, 10:29
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That technique described by Prince is called 'daab' or 'dabana' (lit : to press). If you stand on a roof today* you will hear the following terms shouted out as well -

kheench - to pull (to cut the string from the bottom, causing the kite to ascend rapidly, often at an angle).
Dheel - to give way (to force cutting of the string by resting yours on the other party's) - works well if there's a strong wind and your kite is heavier than the other person's
Dedh kanni (one and a half times as broad as a regular kite) - used when winds are very low - every sankrant, between 12 and 3 pm, you need one of these.
Chutti dena - to give leave - one person holds the kite, jumps up in the air with both hands lifted while the other pulls string. Useful if you're standing in a ground and not on the roof while flying a kite.
Kaanp - The backbone of the kite. It must be bent slightly, usually by placing it over your head to enable the kite to be controlled. Otherwise, the kite will fail to lift off. If you bend too much, then you've broken the kaanp. (Also used mischievously in other circumstances)
My personal favorite - Jhujja - a small stone tied to the end of a string useful to get hold of kites stuck in trees or poles - the activity is called ''lootna'' (to rob).

*still cloudy, so limited activity, plus some schools have decided to remain open hence more action tomorrow. This morning in the nearby park, a housing company was giving away branded kites. They didn't give one to me

p.s. GP - not much of a kite flyer myself, brother used to do it for at least a month.
#6 Jan 14th, 2016, 11:02
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The kite flying here is not even good for comparison. When I was new here, I saw just one person flying a kite in an open ground with no movement and no manoeuvres - just flying the kite and holding it still...that's it. I went up and told him how I fly kites and what all I do, and he was

I didn't even call that kite flying!...and it's always chinese style kites here with long tail.

I love the 'Keench' technique but you need to be very skilled and fast with your hands and 'Dheel' is very tricky and may lead to no result at the end, and possibly loss of kite as well.

I also used to tease other kite flyers a lot by just going close to their's and then pulling back. It's my way of testing to see whether they are up for the challenge. People who fly kites close to them - about 10 to15 metres above the ground are indicating they are not interested in competition and to leave them alone - usually small kids with parents or inexperienced flyers. I ignore them but If I feel bored, I used to tease them too but never cut their kites - that's against rules.

The most dangerous flyers are the ones who come from behind without you noticing and cut off your string from near your hands - happens in less than 5 seconds. We used to have two people in the group to keep an eye on the skies; one to scan for a fighting kite and the other watching for any sneakers flying from behind.

That's enough of Indian kite flying lesson for today!
#7 Jan 14th, 2016, 11:29
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My cousin was an expert kite flier from Meerut. He used to keep his kite up for days. Kite fight during the day and at night he used to tie it up to a post and continue next morning. Those were the days. He preferred a type of kite called Gudda.
#8 Jan 14th, 2016, 22:27
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Yes indeed, kite ‘cutting’ was an exciting and pulse pounding additional step to the kite flying ritual followed during sankranti time. Some boys used to go a step further, they used to apply a powdered glass paste to the thread in order to make it sharp like a knife and cut the rivals thread in just one quick tug.. I remember grinding the glass bottles and mixing with some dough and carefully painting it to the thread. The victorious smiles preceded by loud cheering after cutting the rival’s kite, especially if it is flying higher, used to be talked about for many days. Its all a boys’ game where girls rarely ventured to get in.

Girls and women used to keep busy with their own activities like making muggulu and gobbemmalu in their front yards.

I tried to post the image in this weblink here,but remained unsuccessful.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper...cle8095296.ece
Last edited by surya2015; Jan 16th, 2016 at 02:34..
#9 Jan 14th, 2016, 22:56
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You're implying that you used to make your own manjha (the cutting thread)? It's seen as the colored thread over the white (sada) in the photo of my gear used today. Making your own manjha is very impressive. I would never hazard that. Actually no one here does that. Best manjha still comes from Bareilly.

Also I got this kite when it just drifted over to the house during a particular hour when the wind is so fierce that its impossible to control your kite and the string breaks. Smart people plan for lunch around that time That hour has a name but I've forgotten it.

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#10 Jan 15th, 2016, 23:23
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Here're a few kites that floated in today. I got some photos and made a small collage to show -
  • Top left - two kites lie atop each other. The smaller is the standard kite. The larger is the Dedh kanni (1.2 times the width) of a normal one. Very useful in slow winds.
  • To its right - chand-dara - Mark of moon.
  • To its bottom - glass dara - Mark of Glass.
  • To its left - Each kite is handmade and is stamped with the name of its maker. This one was made in Rampur UP, but then got sold here.


I managed to cut two kites. The second, I'm sure was an accident. I was flying a kite in Jaipur after at least one and a half decade. I've never managed to cut that guy's kite ever.

Due to the long weekend, the festival seems to be stretching on.
#11 Jan 16th, 2016, 02:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post You're implying that you used to make your own manjha (the cutting thread)? Making your own manjha is very impressive. I would never hazard that. Actually no one here does that. Best manjha still comes from Bareilly. ]
At 13 or 14 the urge to do something fun and adventurous overrides the voice of reason without any doubt
Anyway that was many years ago, wasn’t it. So many manjaas were not available to us then.

That was some impressive assortment there you posted VA, them cute kites have names of their own now , don't they.
#12 Jan 17th, 2016, 23:58
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In the evening, around sundown and immediately after, people light lanterns. These used to be tied to a kite and then hoisted in the olden days (kandeel) but now people use simple chinese lanterns - much easier.

I did a video day before but forgot to upload earlier -

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