When I penned & published the last blog to Start the New Year 2021 with Positivity, it was already at the end of January. The topic of this blog was already in the draft, however, it just got delayed for one or the other reason and before I realize, it’s almost end of February. But anyway, better late than never.
So it has indeed been a good positive start to the new year – especially for Vritima. She had already had couple of visits to the Indroda Nature Park in first 2 weeks of January and enjoyed thoroughly in nature. And then came the festival of kites – Makar Sankranti on 14th January (also called Uttarayan in Gujarat, Lohri in North of India, Magh Bihu in North East of India and Pongal in South of India). For Vritima, this was going to be the first ever kite flying experience in her short 4 years of growing up and she was obviously excited. At the same time, I too was equally excited as it had been 13 years since my last kite flying celebration.
As I believe and have always pointed out in my earlier blogs too, our previous generations and we have grown up in an era which was not taken over by technology and gadgets, we have grown up celebrating the small joys of life and enjoyed all the festival with their core values and respective ways of celebrating them – whether it is Uttarayan with kite flying, Holi with colors, Diwali with lights and crackers and so on. Whereas, in current times, everyone is busy making a life in metro cities, nuclear families and also seen today’s kids associate festivals mainly with just holidays or school projects. Megha and I have slowly started to teach Vritima the significance of festivals. And even though she is too young to comprehend right now, it’s a seed we have planted in her mind which will grow with her upbringing so that knowing and celebrating Indian/regional festivals will help her to connect with our roots and culture.
So, this time, as we were in Gujarat, which is the center stage for kite flying festival, we couldn’t resist but to immerse in the festivities. Couple of days before the festival, I took Vritima to the main market, bought kites, manja (it is glass powder coated kite flying string), trumpet horns, hats etc. It was an overwhelming experience for her, and more of nostalgia for me that brought back many childhood memories. The real fun is to see the complete process of dyeing and preparing the manja thread on spinning wheels. Vritima selected pink and purple colors for her small reel of manja and was overjoyed with so much vibrancy and colorfulness around her while we were getting our manja prepared.
After spending almost half day in the market, we were back home, but the task wasn’t over yet. We spent the next day tying the kite knots, get the sweets and snacks ready. Vritima was, as always, ready to lend a helping hand in all the preparations. And finally we were ready for the big day with homemade Chikki & some snacks. Chikki is the trademark sweet in Gujarat during kite flying festival. (It is a traditional Indian sweet (brittle) generally made from peanuts and jaggery).
Festivals should not be only about a holiday or celebrations, it also represents caring and sharing in Indian culture. Since last year, we have also started a tradition with Vritima to donate food, sweets or other items to the homeless and needy on festivals and on her birthday. Earlier on Diwali last year, we made her distribute crackers and sweets, and on her birthday, she donated her old clothes to the kids of homeless/daily wedge laborers. This time, she happily distributed chikki, sugarcane and kites. Our purpose is to instill the feeling/habit of charity in Vritima from early age, to help her realize the privileges she has and to develop a sense of sharing with needy. An inspiration we have taken from one of Mrs. Sudha Murthy’s speeches on parenting (skip to 26:35 minutes for the parenting lesson we are inspired from). This maybe a small thing for her now, but it will go a long way in her development in life. This is something we feel every parent should take an inspiration from and follow.
Coming back to the festivities – On the cold but bright sunny morning of 14th Jan, we went on the terrace and the sky was already vibrant with colorful kites, the atmosphere was filled with music and screams of ‘Kai Po Chhe’ and ‘Lappet’ – typical shout outs when you cut someone’s kite with yours. Kite flying turns in to kite fighting, sky becomes a battle zone and the scenes in the sky are absolutely electrifying. For Vritima, it felt like a once in a lifetime experience, and why not? After all, it was her first time experiencing the bandwagon of kites, music, food, friends and all hullabaloo. We did terrace hopping throughout the day visiting family, friends. It’s so much fun with scenes of kids dancing and running around, batches of snacks, chikki and cold drinks keeps coming, and when you are flying the kite with another 4-5 friends flying from same terrace and negotiating not to mix up & tangle your kite/manja with each other. Finally the kites started coming down with setting sun, but the day wasn’t over for the ‘Gujju’ people yet – the kites came down only to make way for sky lanterns and fire crackers. The festival that started with kites finally ended with the sky lighting up with lanterns and colorful fireworks.
In the end, when we see our kids celebrating and enjoying the festivals with the traditional ways, we feel a sense of satisfaction to help them connect with our roots, culture and traditions. All the festivals, their significance in different part of Indian subcontinent & how they are celebrated makes India the land of diversity and land of many cultures. The way a festival is celebrated varies from region to region, state to state in India. I will try to pen a separate blog post on various festivals, how they are celebrated across India and how it impacts and influences a child to help him/her connect with Indian traditions and roots. Till then, let the positivity fly high like a kite in the bright sky. Ciao.