Udi Udi Jaye Gudi

The Raipur Kite Bazaar Four days before Uttarayan


By Upagupt Mohanty

“Udi Udi Jaye Gudi” the famous song of the legendary Akshaya Mohanty in loud decibel broke my sleep in the morning. I went to the balcony to check the reason for the high decibel which is common during celebrations and festivities; I witnessed kites of various hues, shapes, and sizes soaring in the sky. I was spellbound by the view. I was then living at Cuttack, after coming back from New Delhi. I went downstairs to the landlord and got to know that it was Makar Sankranti. That’s my first brush with the festival in the silver city, Cuttack. It came to me as a surprise that to meet the demand for Kites during Makar Sankranti in January, the making of kites starts as early as November. Must be a real community festival, isn’t it? Interestingly, children wake up at the crack of dawn so that they can catch the ideal pre-dawn wind to fly their kites from rooftops while adults wake up early to dip in holy river to cleanse their sins. The family members catch up with the children and showcase their individual skills in kite flying too. Makar Sankranti is a great community celebration of Hindu culture as families and friends gather on rooftops or river beds, with food and music. “ I don’t know much, when flying of kites was introduced in Cuttack, maybe since time immemorial. I have seen my grandfather and then saw my dad flying kites on the banks of the Kathajodi and the Mahanadi on Makar Sankranti. But one thing common they both used to say often was that flying kites is an integral of Cuttakias. I remember during my school days, I used to bunk classes just to fly kites undeterred by the punishments that followed” shares 39-year-old Smruti Ranjan ( self-employed). Kite flying was not only restricted to men, women joined in equally. “I love competing with my family and friends, flaunting my ability in kite flying on Makar Sankranti, playing lively odia tracks on the terrace and flying gudi or kites the entire day” shares Sagarika (college student). Makar Sankranti (Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti refers to the transition in zodiac path) marks the first day of the Sun’s transit into Makar (Capricorn) where the new season of harvest begins. The lucid blue sky and the cool breeze make the perfect combination to enable the kites to cruise upwards. Let’s decode the possible reason behind Kite flying during Makar Sankranti. Would you believe kite flying during the festival was for health benefits? Exposure to the rays of the early morning sun which is a good source of Vitamin D was one of the main reason. It is also considered beneficial for good skin and aides in fighting many infections. What a fun funda for sunbathing! Makar Sankranti, a festival celebrated countrywide in reverence of the Sun god, takes different names and forms in different parts of the country, yet with similar fervour. While the festival is known as Makar Sankranti in Odisha, down south it is named as Thai Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal. In the north and north-east. it is known as Maghi, Shishur Saenkraat, Khichdi, Bhogali Bihu while in the west the festival is known as Uttarayan and in the east, it is known as Poush Sankranti. On Makar Sankranti, while Bengali communities make mouthwatering sweets such as Puli Pithe on Poush Sankranti, Tamils prepare Chakkara Pongal and Odias prepare Makar Chaaula. Makar Chaula, a special kind of sweet dish is prepared with uncooked newly harvested rice, jaggery, grated coconut, ripe banana, chhena (cheese ), khua, various fruits, dry fruit and milk. Kite flying and savouring Makar Chaaula bhog are essential elements during Makar Sankranti celebration in Odisha. In many traditional lip-smacking sweet food items, the usage of jaggery is common. Men, women and children enjoy sharing Makar Chaaula. Sharing the delicacy, creates stronger bonding among friends and fraternity. The friends are not called by their names but with the day’s special word, Makara. “Sankalp was simply a friend of mine. On Makar Sankranti day, we shared Makar Chaula with each other and he became my “Makara- ( Best Friend Forever) so did I, to him. I like this festival of bonding ” shares Raghu Sahoo ( a school student). Decoding the reason behind Makar Chaaula delicacy. The probable analysis for sharing the delicacy is to create lifelong brotherhood sharing pain as well as joy. Above all, eating jaggery is considered beneficial to health as it keeps the body warm. In Odisha, the celebration doesn’t stop with Kite flying and eating Makara Chaaula alone but people fast and throng to temples. In Puri at Jagannath temple on Makar Sankranti festival, Utarayan Jatra ( Yatra ) is observed. Makar Fairs are conducted at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khurda, Makar Muni temple in Balasore and near various deities in each district of Odisha. In the Tribal dominated places such as Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Koraput and Sundargarh, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great enthusiasm. They light bonfires, dance and enjoy the particular celebration meal sitting together. Makar Sankranti promotes prosperity, brotherhood and good health. ❏ By Upagupt Mohanty Soul of Kalinga



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