It’s Makar Sankranti, an Indian harvest festival marking entry of the sun into the Capricorn zodiac and start of winter solstice. It’s the only India festival following the solar calendar instead of the lunar one, falling each year on January 14th or 15th. Consistent with the vast variety of languages and subcultures across India, it is known by different names in different parts of India. In Maharashtra, my home state, it is called teeL sankrant (तीळसंक्रांत), and celebrated with laddoos of teeL-gooL (sesame and Jaggery).
In many parts of India, and in the city where I live, the main feature of Makar Sankranti is kites. It’s January, sky is bright clear, temperature is pleasantly cool, a perfect time to fly kites! Hundreds of kites can be seen above in the sky, of different colors and shapes, sometimes as big as a chopper. Just the day before yesterday, they were attempting for Guinness Book of World Records for flying the largest bamboo-made kite in a nearby ground. I don’t know of the result, however.
I can’t fly kites. My mother never let me fly kite as a kid. I was the only son, and too much cared for. Once only I had bought a kite for four annas (0.25 INR) and was beaten for it. Flying kites can be hazardous sometimes if precautions not taken! There was a little boy who fell in a well while running behind a cut kite. My mother never let me fly kite; later I never attempted it too!
I lived in relatively small towns then. People didn’t have this much craze of kites there. Nagpur goes crazy behind kites. One needs to be too much cautious even if he is not flying kites. Kids run across the roads behind the kites. Some hanging thread across the road can slit your throat. It’s dangerous. I myself have seen one such a patient. He was riding his bike and a kite thread slit his throat across. We had to take assistance of an ENT surgeon to repair his throat as it was too deep! The administration has banned China-made nylon threads this year and have suggested to use simple threads only.
Still, Makar Sankranti is a joy! It’s a holiday, the teeL-gooL laddoos taste good, and I like watching people flying kites and enjoying the good air!
1. The winter solstice falls on December 22, but for some reasons unclear to me, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14/15.
2. Both the pictures above are taken in/around Reshimbag Ground this morning.