(NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
In the Punjab region of northern India and eastern Pakistan there is a huge kite flying festival called Basant or Vasant Panchami.
This festival usually falls in late January or early February and marks the beginning of spring. This year in the Punjabi calendar, Basant falls on February 16 — National Kite Flying Day! It might be celebrated a little differently today with social distancing, but let's see how it's traditionally celebrated.
You can see Basant Panchami festivals happening all over India but it is in the Punjab region where it is the most spectacular! The skies are filled with colourful kites and yellow ribbons.
In the early 1800’s, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (the founder of the Sikh Empire) and his queen Moran would dress in yellow and fly kites to mark the start of spring. This is why kites have become a yearly tradition as part of the Basant celebrations. Many people wear different shades of yellow as well to welcome the new season.
People fly kites to celebrate the spring festival, Basant, in a Feb. 9, 2003 file photo, in Lahore, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash, File)
Flying kites isn’t the only way that people celebrate Basant. There are many local fairs where friends and family meet and local vendors sell bracelets (also known as bangles), clothing and delicious things to eat. People enjoy visiting with friends and family and exchanging gifts and sweet treats. Oh, and there is lots of singing and dancing too!
Not only will you see yellow on people’s clothing during the Basant Panchami festival but also in the fields. Spring is the time when all of the mustard plants are in bloom and display their bright yellow flowers all over the region.
Although it might not be the best weather outside in Canada to fly a kite, you could celebrate by making one inside!