Gujarat is synonymous to festivals which is testified by the yearlong celebrations the state witnesses! Having lived here for more than a decade, I can say that festive celebration is an integral part of the lifestyle. However our addiction has its own downside, which makes our life incomplete when we are away from the state. I was away from Gujarat for quite some time and the festival days felt more tragic than those dreary assignments. It was during my MBA days at Symbiosis that my sentimental social media updates surprised my peers; they could not relate to a lot of festivals, and many of them were not even aware of the way we celebrate it.
Uttarayan is one of those festivals that I have missed since few years, and on every 14th of January, I would flood my social media profiles with sentimental updates. It wouldn’t end there; I would show pictures and videos of the kites and its associated masti to my college friends, but they would disregard it; considering it to be ‘just another day’. For them, all that mattered was a La-Tomatino kind of festival which trended on Twitter the whole time!
But Uttarayan 2016 was a different! First of all, I was in the town to celebrate the festival after 4 long years. And when I updated my social media with a rather positive feed, a lot of my non-Gujju friends showed love by likes and re-tweets! And as the day progressed, my WhatsApp got messages from people who called this a phony festival, which was by almost everyone at Symbiosis.
So yes, WhatsApp! It was blasted with screenshots and videos picked up from Twitter. These were from people who had never taken kite-flying seriously or thought it was only meant for the Bollywood flicks! People were amazed to see the way we fly kites, dance, shout, eat and celebrate this festival on the terrace. I patiently replied to everyone’s questions like ‘how do you fly kites?’, ‘kai po chhe kya hota hai?’, ‘ingredients of undhiyu batao’ and so many more! Being shocked and surprised, I did a detailed analysis of this sudden public interest which happened mostly during the ‘pavan nathi atyaare’ duration. I observed that all this was due to the #ShowcaseUttarayan hashtag! A lot of us today have become so dependent on social media that if we do not see news there, we do not consider it to be news! Similarly, if one does not see a festival being hashtagged, the festival is given a miss.
So this time, someone amongst us took an initiative to ensure that the excitement is not restricted to Gujarat/Gujarati’s alone. And, this was executed using the platform that the youth today relates to – the Twitter hashtag. The lady behind the movement of #ShowcaseUttarayan was Aditi Raval, who is an ex-Radio Jock and now a popular name in the social media sphere. Based out of Ahmedabad, she is known across the length and breadth of Gujarat. A day later when my finger cuts healed and my body ache reduced, I decided to decode her #ShowcaseUttarayan initiative which ended up impressing me and I found it a necessity to tell you all about it.
Sometime in December 2015, Aditi announced her wish to #ShowcaseUttarayan. Not only did she get support from her loyal fan base (which is in lakhs – mind you!) but also from a lot of known names of Gujarat like Jaydev Unadkat, Kirtidan Gadhvi , Arvind Vegda, Mayur Puri, Aditya Gadhvi and prominent radio jocks and actors. In #ShowcaseUttarayan, she made it a priority to make Uttarayan from every city and town of Gujarat showcased. For one to showcase his/her way of celebrating it, he/she had to upload original content on Twitter, related to this festival, in the form of pictures, videos or simple text using the hashtag “ShowcaseUttarayan”. This way, everyone would #ShowcaseUttarayan to the world in a visually attractive manner.
Brilliant! I am not sure how long it trended because I was stuck amidst the direction and height of my kite, but ‘enaathi fark padde’?
By the way, it found support from Twitter India too and this was probably the first time that they tweeted in Gujarati for a festival. Moreover, Uttarayan 2016 became a ‘Twitter Moment’ which is indeed an achievement for a regional festival of India. Check it out at https://twitter.com/i/moments/687679725314142208
Doesn’t end there folks! There were people who had never experienced this festival and were delighted to see it on Twitter. Some of their tweets:
It was indeed a moving campaign and a huge shout out to Aditi for taking this initiative. More power to her and would love to see her doing more interesting stuff in such innovative ways! And do not be surprised if we have tourists coming in for Uttarayan next year 😉