Monday, March 14, 2011

Uttarayana and Kite Flying

Roofs as Extended Space-In the last post, I talked about restoration of  an old house and terrace and converting into an authentic Gujarati restaurant “Agashiye”. This is another post describing the use of the roof tops of the houses in Ahmedabad, India.

Flat Roofs with the parapet are architectural elements of the houses in Gujarat. This extended spaces above the houses are used for many activities including this special kite flying activity.
This occurs two days 14th and 15th January of each year and it is called Uttarayana and Vasi Uttarayana.
The name Uttarayana comes from joining two different Sanskrit words "Uttara" (North) and "ayana" (movement towards). Uttarayana (Makar Sankranti) is the day when the sun starts to travel towards north as a sign of coming summer. It is the day when people of each age group gather over the roofs of their houses and apartments and fly colorful kites.
This day is very special to me as I have many good memories of connecting through threads with special friends on the rooftops and having kite flying and kite cutting wars.
Commerce for Kites and threads

Many workers are involved in the production of handmade kites and coloring of the threads.  The threads are prepared by adding color and, glass alloy to thread reel, which are named Firaki. The kites are made from thin colorful papers and reeds. They are sold in Kite market. All parents go with their children to shop for kites and threads few days earlier so they can have time to tie threads to Kites and make them ready to fly. Look at the crowd in the photos above at 10 PM in the night before Uttarayana. Even the recent conference in Gujarat promoted this kite flying festival on Sabarmati Riverfront. 
Gujarati Women-

This day is celebrated by all the people of Gujarat, and I wanted to point out the involvement of gujarati women for this activity. I was on the terrace and captured photos of young girls and women completely engrossed in kite flying activities. The photos below show women holding two firakies, flying kites, making jokes etc. Also, the streets and terraces are marked by threads and kites. 

Spaces are designed for people- The cultural behavior affects the design of the houses. The houses do not have slopping roofs, they have terraces or Agashiye. People spread mattresses to sleep in the hot summer nights. Also, I remember using solar cooker to use sun on the terrace. Also, home made mango and lemon pickles are safely baked in the sun on the terraces and roof tops. Specifically for kite flying activities, taller houses are better to fly kites. People put music, fly colorful kites the whole day with their family and friends, eat special sweets made with Sesame seeds and Jaggery and have friendly kite cutting wars. I felt like flying in the sky with all these kites as I spent 14th and 15th January in my hometown flying kites and reconnecting with my childhood friends.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet, Neela! Maybe this can be part of a rooftop community project you initiate?