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It is that time of the year again. If you visit Gujarat right now, you will see kites in the sky from before dawn to after dusk. From young kids to elders, couples to bachelors, families to friends, everyone is in a great mood and they have the festival of Uttarayan to thank for it. For the state of Gujarat, this is a great festive start to the year. It is perhaps the best time to visit cities like Ahmedabad whose skies are dotted with kites of all shapes, colors and sizes. You can feel the zest in the cool breeze and the sight of colorful kites in the sky warms the cockles of your heart. The festival of Uttarayan 2017 also called the International Kite Festival 2017 is underway in Gujarat and the state is as excited as it always gets during this time. ALSO SEE International Kite Festival 2017 in Gujarat: Everything you need to know about Uttarayan in Ahmedabad Also Read - OnePlus TV Series Launch: Mid-Range Smart TV Launched in India | Price, Specifications, Other Updates

The term Uttarayan comes from the Hindu calendar where it stands for the end of winter and beginning of its transformation into summer. The festival is celebrated as Makar Sankranti in north India and Pongal in the south. However, in Gujarat, this is the time for Uttarayan, the majestic kite festival which is the envy of the world. The International Kite Festival has been held in Ahmedabad since 1989 and this year, it is being celebrated from January 8 to January 14 (the day of Makar Sankranti). During this period, if you are at the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad, you are sure to witness one of the most marvelous spectacles of your life! Also Read - Sushant Singh Rajput Googled His Own Name Before Committing Suicide: Reports

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The origins of the kite festival are unclear but the practice is being followed for centuries now. As per the Hindu calendar, Uttarayan has always been considered a special day as it marked the end of winter. But it is believed that the practice of flying kites can be credited to the Muslims who entered India from Persia. As years passed, the kite-flying activity gained popularity amongst all religions and came to be followed as the norm during the celebration of Uttarayan. Another popular belief is that kite-flying came to India through Buddhist pilgrims coming from China in search of sacred texts. Either way, kites are believed to have made their presence felt over 1,000 years ago, since they found mention in a song by the composer Santnambe. Also, there are numerous classic miniature paintings of typical scenes in the region which depict people flying kites. Gujarat is located at the westernmost edge of India making it a region where Muslim and Hindu cultures blended together in several aspects. CHECK OUT Top 10 romantic places in India for the 4-day long Republic Day weekend

Today, people across all sects and religions indulge in this activity and Gujarat makes a huge event out of it with the International Kite Festival which is one of India’s biggest annual cultural events. The state of Gujarat transforms into a festive paradise with families and friends gathering on the rooftop and looking out for each other’s kites. You seen fun and laughter all around as people try to battle each other’s kites. Delicacies like laddoos , undhyu or surati jamun are exchanged between families and relatives as well as friends to mark the festivities and express love and concern for each other. DO SEE January 2017 India festivals and events

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The International Kite Festival is not just a big deal for Gujarat. Over the years, it has transformed into a global cultural event with people from various other countries participating in the kite-flying competition. At the local level, the main competition is to battle kite-flyers around you and bring their kites down by cutting their strings called manjhas. This may seem like a small thing but locals take this competition very seriously as they find their favored kite-makers to prepare strong resilient kite bodies well in advance before the day of the event. Production and supply of kites begins as early as November thanks to the excitement amongst people for Uttarayan. A market called Patang Bazaar located in the old city is open 24 hours a day for the entire week preceding the festival of Uttarayan. DO SEE Air India, Vistara and SpiceJet’s flash sale starting at Rs 749

At the International level, Uttarayan is as huge and competitive as it can get. The festival is graced by participants as well as admirers from several countries including Japan, Italy, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, and China. While the whole of Gujarat puts its most festive foot forward during Uttarayan, the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad is where the International Kite Festival is held. The capital city of Gujarat, Ahmedabad brings together master kite makers and flyers from all over the world to demonstrate their unique creations and designs. You will be amazed at the unusual and unique kites you will see during Uttarayan 2017. In the past years,  In past years, people have witnesses kite-makers from Malaysia bringing in their wau-balang kites, those from Indonesia getting their llayang-llayang and those from the USA stunning observers with their giant banner kites. From the Japanese rokkaku fighting kites to the Italian sculptural kites and from the Chinese flying dragons to some of the most modern high-tech fliers, all kinds of global kites have bejeweled the skies of Ahmedabad during the Internationa Kite Festival. The IKF has also made celebrities out of kite-makers and kite-fliers. One such prominent name in Gujarat is Rasulbhai Rahimbhai who is the creator of a classic attraction that displays upto 500 kites on a single string. The sky over Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad becomes the battleground for attractive kites that take each other on, at least in terms of design if not physically. Not only is Uttaryan 2017 the best time to visit Ahmedabad, it is also the best way to witness the Gujarati cukture at its very best. So, get yourself to Ahmedabad before January 14 to experience a memory of a lifetime. NOW SEE Lohri 2017 History and Significance: Everything you need to know about north India’s winter festival

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