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A Makr Sankranti spent in Jaipur

Flying kites with my cousins during this annual winter festival in Jaipur, India

Growing up, I visited Jaipur often. Probably a trip every two to four years. You see almost my dad's entire side of the family - his parents, younger siblings, their families - live in that region.

We would take trips back for weddings, events or just to visit. To maintain that connection.

I don't often get to feel like a tourist in India. In fact, many times I try extra hard to fit, to feel like family, in the hopes that familiarity will cover up the years of distance that feel like they have built up.

There are two trips, however, that stand out in my memory. One when I was a child and one very recently. During both of these trips, we were in Jaipur on the day of a festival known as Makr Sankranti. Sankranti is a kite flying festival, and Rajhasthan (the state Jaipur is in) is one of the regions where it is very widely celebrated.

The excitement starts brimming from the night before, as my cousins scramble to get a long lasting supply of kites, string, and spools. I watch them diligently thread each kite in preparation for the following day. I help where I can.

The next day, I hear music blaring starting at 6 a.m. on the roof. I rush upstairs to find many of my cousins already showered and ready for the day. A loudspeaker boasts Bollywood's newest hits and with a few excited fist pumps the first kites are in the air.

The entire day goes by on the roof. In the midst of spontaneous dance parties, kite battles, and an endless supply of snacks to munch on it's hard to know where the time goes. We end with a family bonfire, roasting sweet potatoes and corn.

My aunt and uncle have come into town for this and almost every member of the extended family is there. It is in this moment, I'm acutely aware of being let into something that is such a tradition filled experience for those around me. And I'm grateful to be a part of it.

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