Kitists from across the globe took over the Ahmedabad sky for the last six days during the 31st International Kite Festival (IKF) that is set to conclude Tuesday. The event featured 153 kitists from 43 countries and 115 participants from 12 states.
Among the participants was a kitist from China, Fan Guan. When The Indian Express met him on the first day of the festival, he was struggling to launch the kite. “The first day of the festival wasn’t lucky enough for us. The wind speed was 5km/hr during the afternoon.” said Guan from Weifang, considered the world’s ‘kite capital’. He has been flying kites since 2004 and participating in IKF since 2018.
A Kenyan team participated in the festival for the first time this year. Kitist Allan Munene, a member of the team, said they had brought small kites and hoped to bring larger ones next season. “In Kenya, there is very less open space, and we never had a kite festival before. We design our own kites and get them manufactured from China. Our kites are made of nylon, and they cost approximately $800 – $12,000.
The state government imposed a ban on manufacturing and sale of Chinese lanterns, which are released during Makar Sankranti along with kites, to light up the night sky and use of manja (kite string coated with crushed glass).
Sami Sayegh from Lebanon has been to IKF at least 10 times since 2007. He injured his left leg two years ago during kite flying. “Kite flying used to be common in Lebanon earlier, but there is no space to fly kites anymore. I make one-liner, triangular and 3D kites.” said Sayegh. His seven-metre-long guitar-shaped kite is a special attraction.
One India Kite Team has been representing Kerala since 2010. Each of the 14 districts of Kerala has a team. They are famous for their 110-feet long traditional Kathakali kite. They designed it themselves and got it manufactured from China. Niyaz, a member of the Wayanad district team, said, “We are planning to conduct a kite festival in April during school vacations. We want the government of Kerala to support us financially. No help was provided despite repeated proposals.”
Jamshed Turner, an Ahmedabad-based kitist, who is famous for air banners, said, “I design my own kites and my wife stitches them. Each letter of the banner takes one week to stitch and frame it. Every letter is 20-feet tall. We use two materials – one the cheapest – umbrella parachute material and the other ripstop, costs two and a half dollar per metre.” He had previously participated in kite festivals of Mangalore, Hyderabad, Dubai, USA, Germany and Poland.
Barbara Michalik from Poland is a kitist of Kuklok Team founded in 2007. She makes kites using wooden sticks, straws and plastic bags. She has been visiting kite festivals around the world for the last five years along with her husband.
The festival was inaugurated by Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on January 7.