January 14th is the big day for Kite Festivals in India, called Makar Sankranti. It’s when the sun is in transition into the zodiac sign of Capricorn, when Hindus look forward to the next harvest with the passing of the winter solstice.
Millions of Indians fly kites on this day and go home for special meals called Sankrant Bhoj. Kite-flying is a skill with warrior-style aggression, aiming to kill the kites flying nearby and staying airborn longer than any other. If you don’t kill them then they’ll kill you, so the regional winners meet together in dramatic aerial combat.
Among the modern armaments the flyers coat their kite strings with glass paste which helps them cut enemy kites from their string. This introduces an element of danger into the festivals, especially if the paste is made of iron filings and hits naked power cables. Combatants are busy manoeuvering their missiles that they step off roofs.
The Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is a medium-sized bird of prey, most common in Asia.