“Aeee Lapetttt” , “Areeee Kai Po chheee.” As soon as I heard these shouts , I would rush to my balcony, look up to the sky searching for the “Kati Patang” and watch in excitement as it flew down into the hands of children trying to catch it and then turn my heads towards the guy who cut it. I was 10 years old brimming with excitement and happiness, waiting for every festival and then immerse myself completely into it. After all such moments seldom arrived and when they did they gave me another chance to run away from my homework. Rushing to my mom in kitchen I would say:
“Maa, dekho patan udna chalu ho gaya. Main bhi jaon upar. Pleaaase.”
“Naa, papa ko aane do. Unke saath jaana. Terrace pe tum uchal kood krte ho, kabhi gir gaye toh problem ho jaegi.”
“Please na Maa. Pakka nahi girunga. Railing se dur rhunga.”
“Papa aate hi honge, unke saath jaana. Abhi nhi”
“Par papa ko toh office se der ho jaegi. Please na Maa.”
Still looking at her trying to imitate the puppy dog eyes, I would somehow wish that she would let me go alone up there. After all I was 10 years old. But she had now learnt to resist the cuteness of my eyes and said:”Aankhen dikhane se kuch nhi hone wala. Papa ayenge tab hi jaana upar.”
Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to convince her, I again ran up back to my balcony and watched the colorful kites in awe and sheer desperation as those beautiful colorful sheets of paper would fly so high and sit majestically upon those clouds just waving at me.
Uttrayan, like any other festival was a really special part of me, and residing in Gujarat since my birth, it was always the most-awaited one for me. The entire family would gather at my grandmother’s place. My paternal side had always stayed in Ahmedabad and within close radius of each other hence it was gatherings like these that made that always made the festivals make a home for themselves in the small corners of our heart.
All the cousins, along with the elder clan assembled at the dadi’s place. The women folk deciding the menu, the men folk running around to bring the groceries and make the home ready for the festival and we cousins use to sit and watch TV smugly and eat the delicacies prepared with a satisfied yet happy look on our faces and then returning back to our dose of cartoons.The uncles and all then would bring the kites, manjas, bloopers, sunglasses, finger protectors, caps, and some new fancy things that would attract our eyes for all of us. Amazed at the things we cousins holed up in a room watching in awe at the various shapes and sizes and colors of the kites. So as the delicacies were being prepared we used the spend the whole night tying “Kinnis” to the kites so that we would not waste any of the precious time in the morning and head straight for the war.
Undhyu, jalebis, fafdas, gotas and whatnot. You name it. Uttrayan used to have all of us gorging at the awesome dishes being doled out by our aunts and we gulping them down at a speed that concerned everybody watching us.
The dawn of the Uttrayan was one day in the year when the children folk would wake up before their parents, get all dressed up and geared up. Boots on, oversize cowboy hats donning their heads, sunglasses perched up high above their noses, all fingers taped with the protectors, ready to step into the war-zone ignoring the mind numbing cold. The music system all decked up and the playlist of the hit songs would be prepared ready to blast into the air.The impatient children would rush up and down the stairs waiting for their fathers to join them and help them fly the kites and then hand them over. The thrill and the happiness you get watching your kite fly high above the clouds and the adrenaline rush you get when someone else’s kite tries to cut down yours and the fight that entails, both sides trying furiously to show the other one,” Who’s the boss” and in the end one of them shouting. ” Areeee Kai Po chheee”
The flying would go on all day long despite the sun staring down on them helplessly, even the aroma of the food would not deter these folk. and in the end the food would be brought upto terrace, a shade point would be found and then the lunch would begin. A periodic rest would commence and then again the people would get back to the war. All evening the sky would be filled with indistinguishable number of kites. All in different colors, shapes, sizes. As the sun along with the energy of the people would go down, I remember staying up at the terrace watching the “Tukkals” being flown by people, looking like floating suns far far away ready to give us light. And then the night would fade in leaving all of us with sweet and spicy memories of Uttrayan.
Although the times have changed, the children have now become adults, the undhiyu instead of being prepared at home is now brought out from the stores nearby. There is very less visiting at the grandmother’s house, but the strong feeling associated with Uttrayan lives on. The rush and the happiness you get from cutting someone’s kite and then shouting at the top of your voice letting the world know always has is it’s own joy and helps bring out the small child in us.
Happy Uttrayan to all the readers.