A Beautiful Day for Kite Flying, Picnicking and Demonstrating Support

Photo: Vanshika Vipin

Photo: Vanshika Vipin



The Kamnani, Malhotra and Shukla families at the event.
Photo: Jawahar Malhotra

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for getting out after the cold, hard freeze of the weeks before had made everyone huddle indoors for days on end. It made you wonder at the magic of Makar Sankranti – that actually marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) and heralds the arrival of Spring in India. It is one of the few Indian festivals which fall at the same date in the Gregorian Calendar every year: January 14, with a few exceptions.

Photos: Bijay Dixit

So on this auspicious day, Hindus all over celebrate the “holy phase of transition”, with events that draw them outdoors, especially as it is still breezy enough to make kites soar.

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And soar they did at George Bush Park on Harris County’s extreme western edge, as an estimated 4,500 people came to not only enjoy the kites but participate in camaraderie at a free event orchestrated by the Hindus of Greater Houston, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Gujarati Samaj of Houston, which provided the traditional masala khhichdi (spicy rice and lentil gruel) that is eaten to mark Makar Sankranti. Volunteers from Ekal Vidyalaya gave out free tea.

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While most were busy frolicking around, community activists had organized a “Walk for Unity” to mark the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and also show solidarity for building the Statue of Unity, a monument to the venerated Indian Independence Fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, on a river island called Sadhu Bet in the Narmada River in Gujarat. When completed, it will the world’s tallest statue at 192 meters (597 feet) and the island will also house a visitor center, memorial garden, hotel, convention center and research institutes.

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About 350 demonstrators walked a loop around the parking area from the covered pavilion, shouting slogans of unity, while one of them, dressed like Sardar Patel (and bearing some resemblance to him) marched at the head. Other activists involved in the Narender Modi for Prime Minister campaign collected contacts of those who would like to participate in the free Phonecalls to India and Tell A Friend To Vote drive.