A sign of looming summer

Kites tangled up in electric power cables were removed by hand by workers yesterday, after the end of the kite-flying season in Ahmedabad, India.

The annual Uttarayan festival is a big draw for kite-flying enthusiasts and sees shops selling kites in all shapes, sizes and colours from November onwards.

But the kite-flying fesitival is not without its issues. The Airports Authority of India issued a notice to airmen for Ahmedabad airport last Friday, warning pilots of "kite-flying in the day and lighted kite-flying in the night in and around Ahmedabad airfield". Pilots were also advised to exercise extra caution during take-off and landing.

And it is not just planes that are at risk during the festival. Every year, hundreds of birds fall foul of kite strings which are sharp and often lethal.

The term Uttarayan is derived from the Hindu calendar, signifying the end of winter and the start of the transition to summer.

In north India, the festival is known as Makar Sankranti, and Pongal in the south. However, in Gujarat, it is known as Uttarayan and is renowned for kite-flying, drawing tourists worldwide to the international kite festival.

The festival has been held in Ahmedabad since 1989 and this year it was celebrated from Jan 8 to 14.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'A sign of looming summer'. Print Edition | Subscribe