This week was very eventful and hence it would be injustice if I don’t cover two important events that Ahmedabad is known for in todays post...
The great Vibrant Gujarat
All of you might know all there is to know about Vibrant Gujarat, but I went to visit it for the first time this year. Vibrant has been a major event in Gujarat since the year 2003 and is held every alternate year. I was in seventh standard in school when it was inaugurated for the first time and I remember it was held during Navratri, so I thought it was something related to Garba. However, as I grew up I came to know about its standing and impact. Vibrant Gujarat is the biggest summit Gujarat has ever witnessed which has provided enormous prospects to the State to display its competency in diverse fields, investor friendly climate, modern technologies, art and culture of Gujarat. Vibrant Gujarat 2015 was a resounding success with 110 countries participating, 400 B2B meetings and colossal investments.
I visited the Vibrant two days back at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar and had a great time. It is an amazing trade show with more than 2000 companies participating and had over a million visitors. There were lot of stalls so it was impossible to cover all of those but I rummaged through and it was amazing. ONGC stall made me understand the importance of wind energy and how it can be used to create electricity and various other facets of Exploration & Production (E& P) fortunes. (ONGC is Worlds number 3 E&P Company)
The Driver Training Programme by PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association), MOIL Ltd (Manganese Ore Ltd) and a company called the Westinghouse had interesting showcases to name a few. Gujarat is indeed soon becoming the Global Business Hub with the 7th edition of this fascinating summit.
Qatal ki raat...
Yes, that’s what we call the night before Uttarayan. Widely known as Makar Sankranti, Uttarayan is celebrated in Ahmedabad with great gusto every year on 14th (and 15th) of January. It has an astrological significance as the Sun enters the zodiac of Capricon (Makar), and this transition of Sun is celebrated as Makar Sankranti (Sankranti means transition) as it marks the beginning of Spring. Due to this astrological significance, this day is celebrated all over India in many different ways. There are a lot of stories from the Indian mythology associated with this festival. It is described in Mahabharata that king Bhisma, who had the power to control his own death, happened to choose to die on the day of Maghe Sakranti, hence it is believed that one to die on this day might achieve Moksha, a release from rebirth cycle. People in the South of India often celebrate it by lighting a bonfire with logs of wood, solid-fuels and wooden furniture at home to be discarded, symbolizing a new beginning. Assam celebrates it as a harvesting festival where the feasts last for a week. Punjab celebrates the day as Lohri, as it indulges in Bhangra( a dance form) and festive delights with scrumptious food. While Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal around this time, Uttar Pradesh is famous for kite flying. Besides, there are a lot of fairs called melas celebrated in India during this time, the most famous being the Kumbh Mela.
Giving you a peekaboo into the famous Ahmedabadi Uttarayan... We celebrate Uttarayan every year in the old city of Ahmedabad, Khadia; where the main activity is flying kites. You haven’t seen the real Uttarayan if you haven’t been to Khadia. This area has societies called “Pols” which basically have low roofs as there are no tall buildings. This makes the wind blow really fast and without any obstruction in between. 13th is colloquially called “Qatal ki raat”, which is the day before the festival that literally means “The night of the kill.” People throng the streets of khadia on the 13th to buy kites and manjha (the thread tied to the kites). There is hardly any space to walk as the market is open all night with people buying lanterns, fire crackers and food; hence the name. Families and friends meet up and tie Kinya. (make holes in the kites to insert thread and tie it as a loop around the kite to be attached to the manjha; thus making the kites ready for the next day)
People who rent out their terraces charge around Rs. 50,000 per day, which says it all about the kite flying craze. People eat Undhiyu, Khichdo, Jalebi and Gud chikki on Uttarayan. We always celebrate Uttarayan with our family and all the cousins get together on the same roof in Khadia. They say kite flying is a philosophy. Releasing and pulling the thread according to the wind and applying bandages to fellow kite flyers if they get cuts on their fingers while pulling the thread – all resembles the life experiences... Kites do teach you a lot, which are often used in songs and folk culture. People release paper lamps called “wishing lamps” in the air as the sky gets dark. There are thousands of such lamps floating in the sky which makes the sky look beautiful. A picture or a video can never capture the true beauty of this amazing sight. My elder cousin Hilor Mehta observed while on his way home that even the little kids living on streets could purchase these lamps and were enjoying themselves as each costs only around Rs. 15. Indeed, kite flying is celebrated by millionaires as well as the poor people in the same manner, with the same stuff... and it should remain that way...
|Night sky full of thousands of wishing lamps|
|Wishing lamps- Costing only Rs. 15 each|
The Patag Hotel, ahmedabad
The kite festival
The festival ends with a Tukkal (lamps that are tied on the kite string) flying activity. Tukkals are slightly different than the wishing lamps as they are tied to the kite string one by one. Some kites have as many as 20 tukkals which is an amazing sight.
|Tukkals tied on a kite string|
If you are planning a trip to India or Ahmedabad, make sure it coincides with this festival as you will witness something truly amazing. :)