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Makar Sankranti is the festival that brings joy and enjoyment, especially among farmers who look forward to harvesting their rabi crops. The festival marks the end of chilly winter days and the arrival of longer days. This year Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on 15 January 2020 all over the country. In some parts of the country, the festival is known with different names such as Pongal in southern India and Lohri in northern parts of India. It is also known as Uttrayan which means the movement of Sun towards Earth's northern hemisphere. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, people celebrate this day by organising Kite-Flying competition.
In fact, kite-flying is at the peak during the mid-January and goes on for weeks. People, especially children and youth become quite enthusiastic about flying kites. So now let us know some of the interesting facts about this kite-flying activity.
1. Makar Sankranti has been derived from two words namely, Makar (Capricorn zodiac sign) and Sankranti (change). According to the Gregorian calendar, the Sun shifts to Capricorn zodiac sign and moves towards North. This gives way to longer and warmer days. It is considered to be an auspicious day for Hindus.
2. Kite signifies high aspiration and elevated vision. It is said that one should aim high like a kite and soar high in the sky against all odds.
3. It is believed that while flying kites on the morning of Makar Sankranti, a human's body is exposed in the Sun which helps in absorbing vitamin D from the sun rays.
4. Earlier, Kites were used by soldiers as a medium to convey their secret messages. They also used it for measuring the distance of their enemies' camps.
5. For the kite-flying competition, a special type of string known as Manja is created. Manja which is also known as Manjha is created using cotton threads. These cotton threads are then coated with powdered glass and tree gums.
6. The reason behind coating the Manja with glass powder is to help in cutting down the kites during the competition.
7. While flying kites, people often cut each other's kites in order to win the competition. The flyer whose kites remain flying in the sky for a longer time wins the competition. Once a kite is cut, it eventually starts falling down. It is then people run to collect the cut-down kites. This is known as kite running.
8. One can use only cotton threads for kite string. However, simple cotton strings are not capable of cutting down the competing kites.
9. In Gujarat, several competitions are held and people belonging to all age groups participate in these kite flying competitions. In fact, the competitions are organised on an international level and people across the world come to participate in this kite flying competition.
10. These days several chemical-based Manja are being sold in the market. These are also known as 'Chinese Manja' as they are prepared in China. This Manja is non-biodegradable and won't break easily.
11. These chemical Manja often harm the flying birds. Since the Manja is nearly invisible in the clear sky, birds fall prey to this Manja. Due to this, they often hurt their wings after which they face difficulty in flying.