By Anuradha Dutta, Kolkata, Jan 8 IBNS | 2 years ago

Splashed with colours, the sunny Kolkata sky recently captured the eyes of the crowd present at city's first International Kite Festival Vokatta, as the ace kite fliers across the world gave twists and turns to their kites of different, shapes, sizes and hues.

The two day event held at the Rajarhat Eco Tourism Park went international this year as a step towards being the largest international kite fest in the country with participants from the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, the USA and Malaysia apart from the domestic fliers hailing from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and others.

The event enthralled hundreds of Kolkatans and they were readily induced to asking questions to the participants on the material, concept and even the genre of the kites showcased.

Bob Cruikshanks from the UK, who is a regular at Uttarayan kite festival in Gujarat and a second timer at the Kolkata Kite Festival Vokatta, said, " The atmosphere and people here are so warm and friendly that they keep me pulling back to India again and again. Kite flying is within the Indian culture and not a mere sport here. The involvement of people is amazing. "

The retired avionics engineer has been making and flying kites for pleasure for the last 20 years.

"You have to be a child at your heart to be a kite flier," said the sixty year old Brit who has been to several kite fests including Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bhavna Shailesh Mehta who happens to be the first lady to win the kite making competition at the Uttarayan kite festival in Ahmadabad agreed with Bob, "You must have the zeal and enthusiasm of a child to let you strive for what you dream."

The lady kite enthusiast and her husband displayed rokkaku, box kite, snake kite and the innovative LED kite.

Belgian kite innovator and flier Johan Van Eeckhout's 10 meter* 5 meter Big Blue Beast happened to be the biggest attraction at Vokatta which was themed on 'aerial fancy kite display' this year.

Spectacular exhibition by Bob Cruikshanks Super-Mart, 30 meter circular rotating kite by Edo Borghetti left the crowd cheering.

Jamshed Turner's Dragon Kite which stretched 300 meter in the sky was another amazing display.

The kites made of cloth, newspaper and bamboo by domestic fliers received accolades from the city people for their endeavour to beat the constraints posed by the lack of availability of kite making materials( rip-stop and carbon rods) in the country.

Bhavna, whose creations are endorsed by the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as mark of appreciation said, "Each kite we fly is part of our identity as it sprouts from our imagination and reflects our creativity and passion for the sport and so all my kites are handmade by me and my family,"

In spite of the cut-throat competition, these kite fliers share a rare camaraderie and leave no opportunity to appreciate each other and even go as far as giving away their most priced possessions(their kites) to each other.

Johan Van Eeckhout has gifted one of his signature inflatable delta's to Bhavna, she has presented Bob with the famous Dancing Krishna rokkaku.

The event, however, did not remain just another festival in the city's calendar, but a rare event for the local kite enthusiasts to interact and learn from international and domestic experts about the finer aspects of kite making and flying.

(Posted on 08-01-2014)