Raipur Kite Market on Uttarayan eve.
Mise-en-scène Patang: Market.
Kites are big business in Ahmedabad. The preparation happens all year round and reaches the climax on the night before Uttarayan. That night, the main kite markets are open all night long.
It takes the whole of India to send the kites up in the sky in Ahmedabad. The special bamboo that holds the kite together is grown in Bengal and Assam, the paper is made in Kerala, the thread is made in Tamil Nadu, the people who treat the best thread with starch and make the best kites come from Lucknow and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. After Ahmedabad, they move on to other cities with festivals, like Jaipur and come back the next year.
And within Ahmedabad, it takes people from different parts of the city to put a kite together. There's one community to cut the paper, another to paste it all together and one can't function without the other.
The ace kite fliers have their kites ordered from the master kite makers while the rest buy it off the street by the dozens. Buying the kite is also an event. Every one here is an expert, armed with skills and techniques passed down from an earlier generation and honed on the rooftops, each year.
But why do they buy so many kites?
It's because the average time a kite is up in the air can be a few minutes only. The sheer number of people flying and cutting your kites, the sudden gusts of wind take their toll. An average kite flier on an Ahmedabad roof runs through a few dozen kites that day.
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