Chris Koney’s column: Beautiful display of culture at Indian Makar Sankranti – International Kite Festival


On Sunday, January 14, 2024, a rather warm afternoon in the nation’s capital, I made my way to the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel to participate in the Makar Sankranti otherwise known as the International Kite Festival at the invitation of Indian businessman based in Ghana, Pankaj Gulati of PVSS Ghana Limited.

There, I met with the leadership of the Gujarati Association of Ghana, the proud organiser of the International Kite Festival which is in its second year with support from the Indian High Commission in Ghana and other private companies. Ripal Kirya, the leader of the association was kind to enlighten me on the history of the festival and give more insight into the Ghana edition.

The Kite Flying Festival is celebrated usually on January 14 every year across India, marking the arrival of spring in some states while for other states, this marks the time for major harvests.  Enthusiastic kite fliers wait months for this much-anticipated festival to display their skills and to walk out victorious by not losing any kites but cutting off strings of opponents using their one victorious kite.

According to Mr. Kirya, it takes several years to acquire the skill of flying a kite and perfecting it. Enthusiasts spend ample amount of time selecting the best kite for the season, and in some cases, build it themselves and take over the skies. The joy of flying kites and cutting the strings of other kites is unmatched and the air of celebration is euphoric.

Explaining what form the festival takes in Ghana, he indicated that Makar Sankranti is a communal celebration involving colourful kites, delicious delicacies and a special occasion where strings become threads weaving stories of cultural vibrancy. Usually celebrated by flying kites for the whole day, this event provides another opportunity for familial and communal bonding.

“This is a major yearly celebration in India that is also celebrated all around the world on 14th January. We are extremely proud to have introduced this in Ghana on an international basis as we understand that kite flying is an activity explored and enjoyed worldwide and not solely linked to a festival celebrated in India or Indians globally,” he added.

Usually, kite festivals are organised outside India for multiple motives, including cultural exchange, tourism promotion, community engagement and fostering creativity. According to Mr. Kirya, the association aims to create a festive atmosphere that attracts locals and tourists alike while simultaneously exposing them to a different culture of the world. Each festival may have specific goals, but the overarching aim is usually to bring people together in a joyous celebration of art, culture and community.

In its second year, they have successfully hosted over 4,000 visitors to the two editions held in Ghana at the La Palm Beach Hotel in Labadi, Accra. The visitors include Ghanaians, Chinese, British, Lebanese, Americans, Portuguese and Mexicans.

On whether the purpose for organising the festival was achieved, he stated: “We definitely believe that our purpose of providing a platform for people from different backgrounds to come together, celebrate diversity, and showcase their artistic skills through kite flying has been achieved time and again. We are happy to have you here today”.

He urged his fellow Indians in Ghana and around the world to be grateful for life and to have the opportunity to share in the joy and excitement of the festival. Mr. Kirya further encouraged all Indians to live in peace and harmony with all other nationals in the countries they find themselves in, and thanked all patrons of the festival in Ghana and around the world.

In his concluding remarks, he mentioned: “Kite festivals epitomise the boundless spirit of celebration, where threads of culture and creativity soar high, painting the sky with unity and joy. These events are not just about kites; they’re about weaving connections, embracing diversity and creating a tapestry of shared moments that linger in the hearts of those who look up and dream. We are proud to have brought this event to Ghana and urge Ghanaians and the International community in Ghana to join us at our next kite festival celebration”.

>>>The writer is a thought leader in Marketing Communications and International Cooperation who strongly believes in adopting a strategic communication and tailor-made marketing solutions to achieving organisational effectiveness. Chris has made tremendous impact over the last 10 years within Africa’s corporate communications and creative arts sectors. He can be reached at [email protected] / +233 20 8541480.

Leave a Reply