Hindu kite festival takes flight in Charlotte, beckoning spring
Hundreds of families sent kites fluttering into the air over the Hindu Center of Charlotte on Saturday to celebrate Makar Sankranti, the Hindu festival signifying the transition of winter to spring.
The annual festival has been held at the Hindu Center for nearly 30 years, said the center's president, Hemant Amin.
Children, parents, friends and relatives lined up inside the community center to purchase festival food, drink, and colorful paper or plastic kites.
Amin said the Hindu Center purchased and shipped more than 10,000 of the small kites from India specifically for the festival Saturday. Some of the kites were also distributed to other groups around the region.
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The Charlotte festival mirrored Makar Sankranti festivals held this weekend in many cities and towns across India and around the world marking the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, and the approach of spring.
Many families of Hindu faith attended, but Amin said the full Charlotte community was welcome, no matter their age or faith.
"You can see people from very young age, maybe two years old, up to 80," he said, "And it's not just the Hindu community. We believe in 'Vasudhaviva Kutumbakam.' That means the whole universe is one family."
Saturday's event was also an opportunity for visitors to see progress on the Hindu Center's construction of a new temple adjacent to the community center.
Amin said the center hopes to finish construction on the new temple by the end of 2023 or early 2024. The project had been delayed by labor shortages and rising construction costs, he said.
Strong winds mangled some kites during the day and sent others nosediving into surrounding trees. Amin said the center planned to bring in volunteers to help clean up and rescue stray kites after the event.
In the meantime, he just hoped attendees had fun.