The old town skyline went ablaze with kites of all colours, sizes and shapes as the residents of Tantibazar, Shakharibazar and other Hindu localities celebrated Poush Sankranti, a festival that celebrates the migration of the sun from the tropic of Capricorn to the equator.
The day of the Sankranti varies between January 14 and 15, depending on the Hindu almanac. This year being a leap year, the Sankranti was celebrated on January 15. The preparation for the event takes weeks and involves making sweets like tiler naru and palm sap. Many Hindu women apply halud-kumkum or turmeric powder on each other's forehead. Yet the tradition that steals the show is flying kites!
The blessings of the northern wind take the kites high into the sky as flyers engage in an aerial dogfight. Highly maneuverable single-string paper and bamboo kites are flown from the rooftops while using line friction in an attempt to cut each other's kite lines, either by letting the line loose at high speed or by pulling the line in a fast and repeated manner.
Kites for the Sankranti come in many different forms- bow kites, cellular or box kite and arch kites. The most popular form, however is the fighter kite. Fighters are usually small, flat, flattened diamond-shaped kites made of paper and bamboo. Tails are left off of the fighter kites so that agility and maneuverability is not compromised.
Traditionally the Sankranti used to end with nightfall. Not any more! Fire spinning and fire breathing is the latest addition to the age old celebration. The people of old town are famed for their flamboyance and colour which goes with every rites and rituals be it Hindu or Muslim. The kite festival stands out as the cross cultural and religious blend that makes the people of old town so great!
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed & Noor Alam