Makar Sankranti is a festival when the kite craze hits Gujarat and the sky looks striking with funky, unusual kites in various hues.
But, for Gujaratis, Uttarayan isn’t just about flying kites and going home. It’s that time of the year when people get together with their friends and family and enjoy a day full of laughter, fun, delicious food and foot-stomping music. Here’s a quick guide to maximise your fun…
Host a ponk / kite-themed party
A Surti speciality, ponk is vani nu jowar or jowar that is not allowed to grow fully, and as a result, remains soft. It is roasted under smouldering ashes, husked and eaten raw and fresh. You can relish ponk with different varieties of sev like lasan ni sev, mori sev, marini sev, sakariya dana and green garlic chutney. While ponk is likely to be a sure hit among your guests, there are several ways of using ponk as a food item. Experiement with out-of-the box recipes like ponk na vada, ponk bhel, ponk patties, ponk no chino or ponk ni kheer. Serve these with an option of piping hot tea or chilled green garlic buttermilk. Many ponk sellers in and around Surat take bulk orders and deliver ponk all over Gujarat. To add a dash of fun, you can plan a kite-themed house party. Decorate your home with colourful kites, adorn toothpicks with pretty, little kites and use them to pick finger foods, order for kite cupcakes and play various games using kites as a prop.
Traditional Gujarati food
While food is a major part of any Gujarati festival, kite-flying is mostly about eating homemade lilva kachoris, tal, mamra and sing ni chikki, garam garam jalebi and mom’s special undhiyu which is every Gujju’s favourite winter delicacy. As you spend the entire day on the terrace flying kites, these foods help you stay energised and happy. This year, go back to your roots and plan a menu full of traditional Gujarati foods. Goondar paak, methi paak, shalam paak and adadiyo are some of the most important festival goodies still prepared in Gujarati homes. You do find them at mithai shops but these are best prepared at home, with dollops of love. Khichdo prepared from chadela ghau is another unique Gujarati preparation made with tuvar dal, jaggery, green coconut and dried fruits. Khichdo is heavy to digest, so it is ideal only for winter months. Along with the sweet khichdo, spicy khichdo is also had during this festival.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in myriad forms by all major communities in India and everyone follows a different set of rituals. However, the tradition of wearing black is observed in western India for a reason. It is said that the festival being such an auspicious fete turns all misfortune into good. Hence, black which is otherwise regarded as inauspicious by most Hindus is worn on this day to fight back evil. So this Uttarayan, put your best foot forward in the most fashionable black attire. Whether you’re flying kites, holding your friend’s firki or just enjoying by screaming ‘lapet’ and ‘kaipo che’, make sure you feel comfortable. Denims and a comfy tee or churidar kurta make for a great choice for both men and women. Make sure to complete your looksby donning a cap and a pair of sunglasses to protect yourself from the sunrays.
Opt for a customised playlist
Whether you are planning a full-fledged party on the terrace or a small affair at home, a kick-ass playlist is what you need to get the ball rolling. Compile a special playlist in a CD or pendrive with all the songs that are a favourite among your guests. Manali Trance and DJ Wale Babu have been among top dance numbers of 2015. And don’t forget to add those all-time hit Makar Sankranti songs Dheel de Dheel De from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Manjha from Kai Po Che!
Safety tips for Uttarayan
– Drive slowly. While riding two-wheelers, wear a helmet with a muffler / scarf and sunglasses.
– Never fly kites near overhead power lines or cables. To avoid killing birds during the festival, don’t fly kites before 9 am and after 5 pm.
– Keep empty cardboard boxes with holes in the top handy to secure injured birds
– Manjha can often give you painful cuts, so wear gloves or at least wrap your fingers with a special white bandage.
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