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Uttrayan- when Gujarat dances in the skies!

Find here the entire glossary of words and phrases associated with the glorious festival of Uttrayan!

Uttarayan is the first festival in the Gujarati new year. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Gujarat and the preparations are quite detailed. A harvest festival signalling the end of winter, it is celebrated by flying kites and partaking of delicious festival foods. It is a holiday in Gujarat and people of all ages and backgrounds come together as a community to celebrate. They flock to their rooftops where they remain from from dusk to dawn. Weeks before the day, one finds the streets of Gujarat decorated with colourful kites for sale! 

It is common to hear dhabo saaf karvano (clean the terrace) and system sarkhi kar (making sure the music system is working) in the exciting lead-up to the main day!

A young girl holding a kite and observing the sky for Uttrayan, the kite festival of Gujarat

There is an entire glossary of words and phrases associated with the festival. Let's dive straight into them!

Pavan kai baju che: checking the direction of the wind

Patang - kite

A charkha for a kite used in uttrayan festival of Gujarat
Charkha

Charkha - the barrel-like wooden drum with handles on both sides. The thread that is used to fly the kite is wound around it.

Kai po che - I have cut your kite

Lapet - lapet literally means, to wind. Once someone's kite is cut, they have to wind their leftover thread.

Dhil aap - literally means 'let it go' or 'let it slip'. Usually, when someone is flying a kite, his or her 'charkha' is held by a friend. When the kite flyers want their kite go higher into the sky, they ask the charkha holder to release more thread, that’s when they say, 'dhil aap'!

a man standing in front of a wall of kites during uttrayan, festival of kites

Kinya bandh- means tying the thread vertically in the centre of the kite. This serves as the hook on which the thread holds the kite.

Chaap aap - this refers to the act of holding the kite with two hands, taking it over your head and then pressing it on your head by pulling your hand down. This helps the kite to balance.

Kandil chadhao - kandil means small lamps made of paper. As the night approaches, the kite flyers tie little paper lamps (with candles in them) on the thread of their kites at equal distances… it looks like the kite is flying on a string of lights. A truly magical sight.

No Indian festival can be complete without seasonal and regional delicacies. So is the case with Uttrayan.

snacks and food eaten on uttrayan festival

Undhiyu: a delicacy made of all the season vegetables mixed together in special masala (spices)

Jalebi: it’s a popular, juicy sweet

Sherdi: sugarcane

Bor: Indian jujube

Til ni chikki: it’s a sweet made of jaggery and sesame seeds

Uttrayan in Gujarat is a sight to behold

Uttrayan in Gujarat: a hand holding a kite

People get on their terraces early in the morning with sugarcane, chikki and various food items. They check the wind direction. The smallest kite goes up first. As the day progresses, the size of the kite sent up increases. One cannot take Garba out of a Gujarati! Hence, even in Uttarayan, people play the Garba in the evenings. The night is concluded with flying paper lamps on kites, lighting paper balloons and bursting crackers.



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1843