The state of Gujarat in India celebrates Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan on January 14 every year. This festival is marked by kite flying, which is a popular activity among people of all ages and backgrounds. They flock to their rooftops to enjoy the sight of colourful kites filling the sky or to participate in kite battles. However, this festival was not well-known to the world until a few years ago. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time, decided to showcase this unique cultural event to the world and launched the Vibrant Gujarat initiative. Under this initiative, the International Kite Festival was organized in Ahmedabad and later in other cities of Gujarat. The International Kite Festival attracted kite flyers from different countries, who came to Gujarat to join the festivities.
The festival became a global phenomenon and put Gujarat on the world map of tourism and culture. Kite making and flying is an art that requires skill and creativity. Gopal Patel, a veteran kite flyer from Ahmedabad, said that he got the chance to visit many countries and display his talent, thanks to the Vibrant Gujarat initiative. “Many foreigners also come to Gujarat to witness this festival and this has boosted tourism. Earlier, they used to mock our small kites, but now they have adopted our designs,” he said. The International Kite Festival also changed the lives of the local kite makers, who mostly belong to the Muslim community. In the past, they had limited buyers and low income. But after the festival became popular, they started getting orders from abroad. They now have work throughout the year and earn more money. Rizwan Qadri, a historian, said that the kite festival has a long history in Gujarat. “The beauty of this festival is that it transcends age, religion, and any other barriers. Everyone celebrates this festival with joy and enthusiasm. It used to be a local affair, but Modi ji’s vision made it a global event. Today, this festival has become a big industry and generates crores of revenue,”