It’s a quiet day at office. Even the few of us who are here wear a vague look which says, “Why are we here?” Here in Gujarat, it is Vasi Uttarayan (the next day of Uttarayan, the festival of kites). Yesterday, we woke up to a beautiful misty morning in Ahmedabad. It felt surreal. Well, the kite-lovers mourned the beautiful weather as there was no ‘hawa’ (breeze) to help the kites fly higher and higher. There was disappointment.
It’s amazing how cities change one’s perspective. Growing up in Orissa, kite-flying was a strict no-no for kids from decent family background. Only lafangas (street-side loafers) fly kites in Orissa. My sister’s friend wrote a letter to her when both of them were in Class III in which she mentioned “Premi (another friend) has become a complete lafanga as she is only flying kites.” So, coming from that background, it was a real cultural shock for me when I experienced Amdavadis’ love for kite-flying. The entire city comes to a stand still for two days. In my innocence, in 2002, I went to an art gallery in search of a story and to my utter disappointment I discovered that the gallery was closed on account of ‘vasi uttarayan.’ I could never understand grown up men pumping their hands into air (after cutting a kite) and shouting at the top of their voice ‘Lapet’ (as if they have won some Indo-Pak war or solved the world’s greatest mystery). The snob in me dismissed all this with complete disdain.
After spending a decade and more in Ahmedabad, I now look at Uttarayan with a bit of tenderness. I still can’t fly a kite (as I am pretty challenged in this department). I still act as my (born and brought up in Ahmedabad) husband’s chottu and follow him dutifully by holding the ‘firki’ in my hand. I still get scolded by him for not holding it properly. And immediately I snub him for this ‘silly’ annual festivity on the terrace. Yet both of us enjoy the festival, in our own sweet ways. India at its best, celebrating its diversity.
I am now learning to savour undhiyu (my mom-in-law makes it the best and it amazes me how a Mallu woman cooks a typical Gujarati delicacy so well). I enjoyed having my share of undhiyu cooked by her this Uttarayan and she loved the jalebis I bought for her after standing in a queue for almost 30 minutes.
Yes, I must say Uttarayan is a tiring festival. Just being there on the terrace and holding a firki makes me feel tired at the end of the day. But when you see many little colourful kites turning the sky into an alluring painting, you can only experience joy. And your heart soars a little higher when you see tukkals lighting up the sky in the stillness of the night. For nothing, life in India is a magic.
(The pic is from http://www.flickr.com)