By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA) – The COVID-19 pandemic has proved a dampener to the International Kite Festival in the western Indian state of Gujarat over the past two years.
One of the biggest draws for the tourists, months beforehand, homes in Gujarat used to begin making kites depicting animals like tigers, octopuses, cartoon characters, matching their skills with imaginations.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on eve of the International Kite Festival, which is being observed on Friday, Gopal Patel, a kite professional, said he spends 100,000 Indian rupees ($1,351) to make giant kites.
"It has (been) disappointing everyone, but what can we do?” said Patel, who has been designing kites for the past 20 years.
Every year he fires his imagination to bring new designs to lure kite lovers all over the world.
"This year had made white and foreign tiger design so show it during the festival. But since it has been again canceled. So, I would not be able to show it," he said.
Every year on Jan. 14, thousands of colorful kites with different themes fill the skyline of Gujarat on the eve of the festival, locally known as Uttarayan, which marks the end of the winter and preparations to welcome spring and the beginning of harvest season.
Uttarayan marks the end of the winter and preparations to welcome spring and the beginning of harvest season.
According to kite manufactures, the pandemic has dampened the spirit of kite shopping, resulting in big losses.
"It is a complete chain related to the kite-making industry that has suffered due to the pandemic. People mostly come to buy kites in the evening here, but due to curbs, at least 50% of the sales have impacted," vice-president of Gujarat Kite Manufacturers and Trade Association, Nasruddin Shaikh, told Anadolu Agency.
"Last pandemic, it was less production and not much stock was available in the market, but this time, production was more and it would hit the entire chain as sales are less this year."
In India, kite flying has been an ancient sport, where teams compete to fly kites as high as possible and outwit competitors by pulling their strings down and keeping the fallen kite as war booty.
- Great disappointment
For many, the cancellation of the festival on the second consecutive year has come as a great disappointment.
According to officials, the event brings master kite makers and flyers from all over the world who demonstrate their unique creations to the public.
Besides professionals, people take to their terraces and test their skills to fly the kites that they design assiduously at their homes.
Ujal Shah, chairman of Ahmedabad Kite Foundation, a non-governmental organization, said he had designed a shark kite for this year's festival.
"We are hoping pandemic will go away so that events can happen again," he said, adding that professional kites are very big and can measure to 100 feet (30.4 meters).
He said the big and designer kites have evinced considerable interest among the public.