“This Year 2023 too, the Mumbai kites festival (Also called ‘Uttarayan’ or ‘Makar Sankranti’) will experience a sky full of variable sizes and shapes of kites and artwork in the city and suburban locations. Let us citizens enjoy the festival and keep some soft corners for those beautiful birds in the sky by refraining and saying NO TO KILLER CHINESE MANJA.
Every person in Mumbai who tried flying kites or enjoys being a spectator of these competitive kites fighting festivals high in the sky will love to be at home taking a day’s leave from their routine job or adjusting some time from the business.
‘Makar Sankranti’ is the only Kite festival in Mumbai which is Big Time celebrated in Gujarat with much more Fun, Music, and Food and is not to be missed if got a chance to be around.
Apart from fun, Let us understand the cultural significance and more about the ways it is celebrated in Mumbai, the fun of flying varieties of kites, and some cons about this festival that attracts helplines for injured birds related with some pictures and videos of Mumbai city.”
Kites Festival Pictures
Kindly Note: Major Pictures and Visuals of the Kites festival are from Gujarat (Credits ‘Dhiraj Bhatia’ Channel). Cannot deny the fact that the Kites festival in Mumbai is not as huge as it is in Gujarat state. Jai Shri Krishna and Salute to Gujarat.
Cultural Significance of Makar Sankranti Festival
The ancient mythology stories of India described this festival of kites in a very different way. It was not these kites for which reason Uttarayan is celebrated But was all about the powerful solar body ‘SUN’ which is said to visit its son called ‘Shani Dev’ who resembles to be Guru of Astro (Rashi) called ‘Makar’ as per Hindu calendar and (‘Capricorn’ as per English Calender).
Significantly it’s a day of responsibility and promise by the son ‘Shani Dev’ to his father ‘Surya’ (The SUN) to Adhere to and keep alive all dreams of his father and fulfill them. In simple terms ‘Makar Sankranti’ is a festival celebrating ‘Father & Sons Day’ all around India and not just in Mumbai city.
The festival also represents the end of negativity, as Lord Vishnu fought and ended the terror of evil Asuras on this day.
So how kites came into existence when the mythology story about Makar Sankranti is so different and how TODAY people celebrate this festival of kites in the sky? Within India, there are hundreds of castes and communities and sub-communities having different stories for every festival.
Same way Sankranti festival is related to Kites in the way said by someone is different compared what other people might say. Let us understand one of the reasons how Kites are related to the Sankranti festival and how is it celebrated in Mumbai city.
In simple terms, if you have heard about Navratri festival (Famous for Dandiya & Garba Dance). Similarly, there is ‘Vasant Navratri’ which is a special festive period per Hindu that starts in January every year.
Goddess Saraswati the goddess of Money is worshipped and related to the significance of the SUN, people offer rituals in the form of multiple color flowers to the lord SUN in the sky. People invented and related flying kites of different shapes, sizes, and colors which are a fun way of celebrating and a form of Offerings to the Lord SUN.
In short, the colorful offerings are in the form of those kites and so now our modern world calls it a ‘Kites Festival’.
Makar Sankranti 2023 in Mumbai, The Fun Of Kites Festival
Hindi Slangs to know about Flying Kites.
Kites which are also called (‘Patang‘ in Hindi) and the threaded wheel called (‘Firki or Phirki‘) with colorful and sharp threads called (‘Manja‘). The kites need a Kunni which is a special knot applied to kites before the main thread ‘MANJA’ is connected and the kite is ready to fly.
Early Morning Kite Flyers at Mumbai Suburban North, Virar (2013).
Sure Mythology has its relevance for these Indian festivals, But kids and youth of Mumbai are equally excited about the fun part of it and for the same reason, flying kites and competing with other kites in the sky by cutting off other’s kites thread is actually a kind of achievement per se.
It is an interesting race of kites where the strength of colorful and sharp threads works wonders and cuts the competitive flying nearby in the sky. If you trust my experience of this competitive kites festival in Mumbai, it is not just the strength of those threads, But a special skill that is required to pull the threads faster enough to make an impact on other people’s threads ‘Manja’.
The pro kite flyers are skilled enough to cut off other threads, and the process is called ‘Khechi’ or ‘Ghasit’ in the local slang of Mumbai.
Fancy Kites of varied colors, shapes, and sizes are now available in the market costing as low as Rs.10 to Rs.100 and more depending on the artwork, shapes, and sizes. It’s a kind of pride to fly a beautiful looking big kite from the rooftop or usually a terrace of the residential buildings.
The fun begins early morning around 7 Am and the excitement last till late night till ‘Fire Kites’ are seen in the dark evening floating around the sky with competitive instinct over and just enjoying the lightened fire balloon in the sky.
Mumbai is a fast-running city and everyone knows the fun of the kite festival will not last more than a day those who took off from their jobs can’t miss any as ‘Uttarayan’ is not declared as a public holiday officially. Things start with preparing ‘Kuttni’ which is a special nod work of thread that actually stables the kite in the skies.
Major locations like Mumbai city, Suburbans and Interior Districts, and Locations like ‘Thane’, and ‘Vasai Virar’ seems to be equally crazy about ‘Makar Sankranti’. Multiple Groups of family and friends are ready for their gang to reach building terraces with enough food, water, and music for fun. Often home balconies are seen full of excitement and kites flyers.
Mumbai’s suburbs like Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Jogeshwari, and Bhayander see major kites flying in the sky on that particular day, Since the excitement of flying kites begins early in January. Keeping aside the rituals or significance part, When it comes to flying kites there is NO CASTE, COMMUNITY, and RELIGION here and just pure kite race competition and fun to experience.
Muslims, Gujarati, Marathi, or say any other cast or religion are here to enjoy all the fun of this festive season. The fun and excitement of the kites festival are so high that people don’t even prefer to come down for lunch.
Special lunch and food arrangements are done on terraces by society or individual groups of families with loud Speakers playing rocking music till late evening.
Family and friends group celebrates this Uttarayan festival at Building Terraces, Open Play Grounds, and any other place that has ample wind flow in the direction required to fly kite. Newbies learn to fly and prepare ‘Kunni‘ (the basic threading on a kite) under the senior’s observation. Perfect ‘Kunni’ making is very important to keep kites flying steady and make twists & turns as and when required during competition.
Both, middle class and riches enjoy this festival by spending a good amount of money on kites and threads. The kids of course have fun catching and grabbing on the kites which lost the battle and come down flying high to the ground.
There are poor kids in Mumbai city living in shanties who cannot afford to buy these costly kites and firkis. They enjoy the jumps and juggles to hold on to the kites whenever get the chance. Usually seen jumping out in open with long sticks to catch hold of those kites who lost the competition and are been cut off and fallen down to the ground.
After about 10 hours it begins, The dusk of Mumbai changes the floor and ignites the Fire balloons, A small handy version of the famous sport ‘Hot Balloon’ that brings in a mesmerizing view of the dark sky. The breeze of the dark evening in the city helps to fly those Night Kites (Fire Balloons).
The same fire balloons (Few also call them ‘Fire Kites’) can also be tied with a stable kite that is flying in dark since evening. The fun is when the pro flyers set in with a series of 10 to 15 such balloons which makes a great view in the sky. This goes on till late at night.
The Kites Shops Of Mumbai
Kites are sold at various shops on every other lane in Mumbai. Few sellers put up special stalls (See Picture inside this article) or and few keep them, especially for the day. Along with it are sold those MANJA. Powerful and effective colored Manjas are Pink, Chocolate, and Grey which are thin and sharp.
Since last 2 decades shops introduced imported ‘CHINESE MANJA’ which are very sharp to cut other locally made threads of flying kites. But these Chinese Manjas are a big threat to birds. These are bird-killer threads that are hard to cut with naked hands.
Patang Galli of Mumbai
Famous places for the cheap purchase of kites and Manja are Masjid Bunder, Mohd Ali Road, and Dongri located in the South of Mumbai, The actual CITY location. Specialty kite shops and street side stalls are set up prior 10 to 15 days before Makar Sankranti, The main kite festival day in Mumbai. Check out these pictures from the Mumbai suburbs.
The Cons of Mumbai Kites Festival
We humans are really selfish at times. Just for the fun of flying kites for a day or few, in the name of the ‘Makar Sankranti Festival’ celebration, we ignore the greatest backfall of HURTING BIRDS. Not only those birds are badly injured, but Many are also literally killed by those sharp threads that strangle around, especially in the neck.
Those birds, Usually the Sparrows and Pigeons are scared of those temporarily seen invaders ‘Kites’. They run for life and often get trapped between those Manjas and get hurt. These birds are victims of the Human Made kites festival and especially by those ‘CHINESE THREADS’.
‘CHINESE THREADS (Manja)’ are used by a few as the threads are sharper and more powerful to cut off other competitors in the sky. Not to forget, humans too have fall victim to these Chinese Manja and many throats have already been cut. DO NOT TRY RIDING BIKES ON KITES FESTIVAL DAY, Specially at locations where kites are at major fly. Gujarat sees major human bike rider victims.
Remember, Helmets do not help here. These powerful and sharp threads can cut off a human neck and many are hospitalized and in emergency situations. Every year NGOs and bird lovers try to help birds and educate people about the facts. It’s a matter of choice of life over fun not just in Mumbai city but all around India.
REQUEST, AT LEAST please don’t use ‘CHINESE THREADS’. Local Manjas are good, But pro flyers prefer Firkis and Manjas from Gujarat, Specially made in Surat city.
Similarly, there are ‘GLASS DUST COATED Manja’, the threads which were famous for decades and were lately discontinued since they cut the fingers of flyers before harming birds.
Kite Injured Birds Helplines Mumbai
Contact NGOs for animals at the below numbers if you find any hurt birds or animals. Below are helplines for Mumbai locations. Kindly note, Not all numbers may be active and in working condition as no new updates received.
- Bandra to Andheri : 02265141313 / 02265151313
- Mulund to Kanjurmarg : 02232522588
- Thane District : 02225608383
Other Animal and Birds Helplines for Kites Festival
- PETA : +919820122602
- Ahinsa Group : +919920510888 / +919920510088
- PAWS (Thane to Kalyan) : +919820161114
- PAWS (Mulund to Bhandup) : +919892179542
- Sri Ramanagarh Trust : +919619933223
- SPCA Hospital : 02224137518
- People for Animals : +9198289060727
- Raksha : +919828500065
- Help and Suffering : 0223245673
YUVA Mandal (Station Wise Helplines)
- Chira Bazar : +919869138768
- Opera House : +919323245688
- Kandivali : +918451899899
- Borivali and Dahisar : +919324747555 / +912232522509
Alternatively, you can take any injured bird at Sanganer Bird Hospital: 022-2575801 (Hope the STD code is right, Kindly help if anyone knows).
Hindi Slang’s Used For Kite Flying
- Kai Po Che: This is a very famous slang, Specially by the Gujarati community, which proudly means ‘Yeah, I have Cut Your Kite’, and it is my victory.
- Kanni / Kunni: The Knot with 4 holes tied with the same or other thread / Manja, It should be tied properly for a steady flying kite. This knot is connected to the main string (thread).
- Manja: This Hindi word means string or thread used to fly kites.
- Firki: The rounded reel with extra sticks out to catch between two hands, made up of wood or plastics that carry the thread / Manja / string.
- Dheel De: A direction to FIRKI holder saying let the strings out for ease.
- Ghasit: Within the competition, Ghasit (Or Pulling of threads faster) to make an impact on competitive kites thread. The one who pulls the thread faster will cut the other slow-flying kites thread as the impact and speed are higher.
- LAPET: Now, the word LAPET has 2 different meanings, for kite flying it means rolling up back the strings into FIRKI. And the Mumbai slang for same means ‘LIER’ (means you not telling truth).
Note: If ONLY you are already at Virar, A small-time Kite Festival Competition is held yearly. But not sure if it continues every year now. Priyadarshini Park is another place to keep watch of special kites competition held yearly.