Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights.
All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. In the western Indian state of Gujarat, the celebrations are even bigger. People offer thousands of their colorful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. During these days people from Hyderabad fly kites from terraces of their buildings. Kites for Uttarayan are made of special light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. The string often contains abrasives in order to cut down other people's kites. When people cut any kites they used to yell with words like "kaypo che" or "e lapet" in Gujarati language.
Since the festival is celebrated in mid winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. Laddu of til made with Jaggery is a specialty of the festival. In the western Indian state of Maharashtra it is called 'Tilgul'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric and vermillion) and given gifts such as utensil, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm.
In Punjab where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Makar Sankranti and is celebrated as Lohri. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together. The Punjabis dance their famous dance known as "Bhangra".
Many Melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti, the most famous being the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations- Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik.
Meethe GUD me mil gaya TIL,
Udi PATANG aur khil gaye DIL,
Jeevan me bani rahe SUKH aur SHANTI,
MUBARAK ho apko MAKAR-SANKRANTI.
How to make a kite:
A kite consists of these basic parts:
1. The Spine. The up-and-down, or vertical stick that you build your kite around.
2. The Spar. The support stick(s), that are placed crossways or at a slant over the spine. Sometimes they are curved or bowed.
3. The Frame. The joined spine and spars, usually with a string connecting their ends, that form the shape of the kite and make a support for the cover.
4. The Cover. The paper, plastic, or cloth, that cover the frame to make a kite.
5. The Bridle. One or more strings attached to the spine or spars, which help control the kite in the air.
6. The Flying Line. The string running from the kites’ bridle, where you hold to fly the kite.
7. The Tail. A long strip of paper or plastic of ribbon that helps to balance the kite in flight. Not all kites need tails.
8. The Reel. The object you use to wind your flying line, to keep it form getting tangled or flying away.
• butcher cord or thin garden twine
• scotch tape or glue
• 1 sheet of strong paper (102cm x 102cm)
• 2 strong, straight wooden sticks of bamboo or wooden doweling 90cm and 102cm
• markers, paint or crayons to decorate you kite.
1. Make a cross with the two sticks, with the shorter stick placed horizontally across the longer stick. Make sure that both sides of the cross piece is equal in width.
2. Tie the two sticks together with the string in such a way as to make sure that they are at right angles to each other. A good way to ensure that the joint is strong to put a dab of glue to stick it in place.
3. Cut a notch at each end of both sticks. Make it deep enough for the type of string you are using to fit in to. Cut a piece of string long enough to stretch all around the kite frame. Make a loop in the top notch and fasten it by wrapping the string around the stick. Stretch the string through the notch at one end of the cross-piece, and make another loop at the bottom. Stretch the string through the notch at one end of the loop at the bottom. Stretch the string through the notch at the other end of the cross-piece. Finish by wrapping the string a few times around the top of the stick and cutting off what you don't need. This string frame must be taut, but not so tight as to warp the sticks.
4. Lay the sail material flat and place the stick frame face down on top. Cut around it, leaving about 2-3cm for a margin. Fold these edges over the string frame and tape or glue it down so that the material is tight.
5. Cut a piece of string about 122 cm long. and tie one end to the loop at the other end of the string to the loop at the bottom. Tie another small loop in the string just above the intersection of the two cross pieces. This will be the kite's bridle, the string to which the flying line is attached.
6. Make a tail by tying a small ribbon roughly every 10cm along the length of string. Attach the tail to the loop at the bottom of the kite.