Sankranti, a major festival reminds of many things, Bhogi Pandlu, colorful Muggulu (Rangoli), Kite flying and Kite fighting, yellow dresses, festive snacks and meals. Unlike all other Hindu festivals which are celebrated according to the Lunar calendar, Makara Sankranti is a Solar event and is always celebrated on 14th January. The festival is after nine days from today that is next Thursday. It is a holiday almost all over the country.
Kite flying is an important celebration and tradition of Sankranti in Telangana region. A Kite is called Patang and Kites as Patanglu, locally. I see some kites flying here and there in the city but this is a miniscule of what it used to be in my childhood. While all missionary schools closed on a vacation for Christmas, rest of the Schools closed for Sankranti, about 15 days prior to Sankranti. So all the children used to be out with their Kites from 15 days prior to the festival and the sky used to be full of them for major part of January until the schools reopened again. The adults, for that matter the whole family joined the children for the entire day on Sankranti that is 14th January for flying kites. With lots of other entertainment opportunities available for children today, Kite flying time is reduced but not the excitement and interest the children show in it as the festival approaches and especially on 13th and 14th January. On these festival days you would find the terrace of almost every house and every playground full of people flying kites. There is a festive atmosphere everywhere. You hear loud music from some rooftops and very frequently outbursts of shouts as people rejoice cutting the Kites of nearby neighbors and very distant neighbors.
Kites are flown with a special thread called Maanja. Maanja is coated with glass powder and is capable of cutting the thread of other flying Kites depending upon its superiority over the rivals Maanja and the skill of the person flying the Kite. Maanjas are available in different colors and are different for Keench Kaat and Deel Kaat. There are some shops in the city which make superior quality Maanjas which obviously are in high demand. The process of cutting the Kites of others is called Paench. Kite flying is an art learnt and mastered by the children over several festivals. The terminology associated with Kite flying is enormous like Chakri, Kannalu, Kannalu japu, Philainch, Rog, Goth, Deel, Dor, Bhadda, Maanja, Suthainchudu, Paench, Riggi, Keench kaat, Dasti, Lapta, Liptainchu, Laccha, Dhaddori, Atkainchudu, Lipak, Lag thay Gili!, Landori, Afaa!, Kaat! and so on. And the Kites are available in different sizes and in very attractive colors and patterns. The Kites have interesting names like, Namam Dhaar, Guddi Dhaar, Doppan, Char Khan Doppan, Langot, Bombay Patang, Topi Dhaar, Thoka Patang, Lalan Dhaar and so on.
The fun and excitement of flying Kites is unique and a part of all our lives. We look forward to Sankranti for this experience and happiness. Incidentally I would like to mention that my sons have participated in a number of Kite fighting competitions at the Country Club, Hyderabad during their childhood and have always won the First Prize for cutting the largest number of Kites. The above photographs are to recollect some Sankranti festivals of the past.
Links to my Sankranti Festival related other blog posts: