So, we were doing kite aerial photography for a year, we (“we” being Janez, of course) made some kites, mainly heavy lifters – when some kite flying friends from Zagreb casually said: “Arrange for a vacation in the first half of January. You are going to a kite festival in India!”
Yeah, right. But then we got a message from the organizers of the International Kite Festival Gujarat 2019: “KAP Jasa is hereby kindly invited to participate in …” What? Is this really happening? … For us it wasn’t – almost until we boarded the plane for Ahmedabad, India!
Yes, it’s true. We are going!
Every year in January the great indian city of Ahmedabad becomes the centre of the world. Kite flying world, that is, for one of the biggest kite flying festivals in the world takes place there. In the state of Gujarat kite flying is a religious thing. The early days of January are the last days of indian winter, leading to the great Makara Sakranti holiday on January 14th that marks the beginning of the Uttarayan, the indian summer. Makara Sakranti is a solar holiday, so literary millions of kites fly up the sky – as kites are symbols of aspiration and hope: fly as high as a kite, soar like a kite, reach for the sun like a kite.
The International Kite Festival that takes place in Ahmedabad and other towns of Gujarat is part of those celebrations. Teams from 46 countries are participating in 10 days of kite flying, showing their ingenious, funny, huge, colorful kites to a large kite loving crowd. And this year we were there, representing Slovenia for the first time.
The sights at the kite flying field are … overwhelming. There are no words that can accurately describe that explosion of flying shapes and colours. Even photos and videos can not convey this immense, chaotic, crazy event.
Of course, we are kite aerial photographers – so we did a couple of nice KAP sessions there, taking stills and videos of the beauties in the sky …
Kite aerial photo of the kite flying field at the Ahmedabad Riverfront.
Giant Polish octopus in the Ahmedabad sky.
French aethereal beauty.
Giant Turkish manta ray defying gravity.
As the IKF Gujarat is mainly a show kite event, we did not came empty handed. For a couple of days Janez was grinding on his Ruža Bagat sewing machine, and made a truly giant symbol of Slovenia: an Olm, Proteus anguinus, known locally as “human fish”; a renowned Slovenian cave-dwelling endemite – just that this one flies and is over 20 meters long!
And among ooooohs and aaaaahs of the crowd and kite fliers the giant Proteus soared into the Ahmedabad sky!
And then dawned the Makara Sakranti, the day all Gujarat was preparing for, buying and making fighter kites, preparing the razor-sharp Manja lines for cutting opponents’ kite lines, testing and practicing.
At the dawn all of Ahmedabad went to the roofs of the old city – an UNESCO World Heritage Site, mind you! – and one by one the kites lifted into the blue sky, tens of them, hundreds, thousands … millions!
This is an unforgettable event. Music, food, kites; people dancing, singing, fighting with kites, screaming victoriously when they cut a kite line and a kite flows helplessly into the ground, eating, drinking and making friends. Everybody flies kites, kids, women and men, young and old, Sanyasis and businessmen, rich and poor and even the prime minister of Gujarat. And us, lucky to be there.
The International Kite Festival Gujarat 2019 is over. We came as kite flyers, we left as friends. With a solemn promise: see you in next year in Ahmedabad!
One sky, one world …
— Big big (BIG!) thanks to Zmajoljupci from Zagreb – Snježana, Žare and Darko, to Gal, to the great mr. Uttej Rao and his lovely family, to all the extremely capable and friendly organizers of the IKF Gujarat 2019, to the excellent staff at the Silver Cloud Hotel Ahmedabad; to Slovenian Tourist Organization, Visit Ljubljana, and Postojna Cave – and of course to all the friends we made there for life: Gadis, Jacques, Ramesh, Peter, Johan, Vinita, Michelle, Rajesh, Caroline, Hitesh, Dzianis, Dipen, Todd, Kawther, Perrin, Abderrahmen, Marleen, Patrick, Andrew, Lejla, Deepak, Julia, Vishal, Barbara, Aniwat, Antonio, Mohammed, Marcin, Ferruh, Denis, Yuri, Slawek, Laszlo, Giedre, Khalid, Sergey, Yusuf, and all the rest we forgot here, but will never forget.
See you all soon – with kites in the air!
Kite aerial photos taken with Nikon P330 on a delta kite; kite aerial videos with iPhone SE on a Rokkaku.