"Ch-ch-ch-chaaaaaaaaaiiit! Changa Chait!" is a popular cry heard in September and October as Dasain draws near. Multi-coloured kites dart in the sky, a tussle starts over whose thread is sharper and then the final dramatic sway as the defeated kite plummets to the ground. At 7,200 ft in Nagarkot, the excitement is mounting as preparations for the third Changa Chait festival are underway. Nagarkot is the event's home not only due to its reputation as the windy hills but because of its elevation, lack of pollution and proximity to Kathmandu. As Club Himalaya Manager Vikas Sakya says, "The main objective of this event is to bring people together from different backgrounds and also create an environment where all and sundry can come and have fun".
This year's Changa Chait festival is going to be bigger and better. The opening ceremony will include eminent personalities from the music, mountaineering, film and sports worlds battling it out in the sky. The festival will be spread over three Saturdays, starting from 17 September and ending on 8 October.
The highlight, obviously, will be the kite flying competition that will be over the three days. The winners of last year's battle were Himalayan Snacks and Noodles. Nepal Investment Bank, which has managed to finish in the top three-but not number one-every year and is determined to claim the top prize this year.
Till now the downside of the competition has been that not everyone could launch a kite. But in a bid to remedy that injustice and include all guests, the last day of this year's festival will feature an open sky competition where everyone will be allowed to soar.
Changa Chait at Nagarkot is not only for kite fliers. Food connoisseurs will be able to indulge in more down to earth pursuits at a food festival that will feature fare from famous eateries such as Bawarchi, Wimpy, Tukuche, Walls Ice-cream and Belle Momo, as well as Club Himalaya's kitchen.
The kids will be able to get high zooming around a playground. A painting competition/exhibition will also be held at the venue.
This year's Changa Chait theme, 'One Sky, One World-Fly for Peace', was chosen keeping in mind the nation's delicate situation and in an attempt to bring Nepalis together as they celebrate their biggest festival. The festival emphasises the need to gather for peace but also to celebrate Dasain with the age-old tradition of kite flying.