Miles, miles away from home, I sit (actually lie) on my couch just counting on the number of years since I celebrated LOHRI with them (family n friends). 6years on and still counting (God knows?). I’m sorry but that just moistens my eyes a little. It reminds me of those good old times when my grandfather was alive and used to tell me the tales behind the celebration of Lohri. At the age of 13-14 when your testosterone levels are high and adrenaline rush is always there, I do not know why my heart used to beat faster and faster on the music of these tales. I would sit with him for hours listening to all this. And I won’t mind saying that celebration of festivals is much more lively and zealous with elders sitting beside you. They add that original warmth of the festival and occasion.
I still remember the days when on this day we would all get together and lit the bonfire. After the prayers and the holy ceremony, we would sit in a circle around that bonfire passing each other- moongfali (peanuts), gachak (dogri form of gazak – made of gur, til, peanuts), reodi, chirwa, etc. And how can I forget that I didn’t have a laptop, comp or any music system and just that radio would do for us. Playing the songs loud and dancing to them. This would be the best part of the celebration as I have always been fond of dancing. The celebration would end with lots of sumptuous dishes made by mom that would just add finesse to the celebration. Suel ki kheer (i don’t know what it is called in English) is what still waters my mouth.
There are many shades behind the reason why we celebrate Lohri. Some associate this with the harvest of the Rabi crops that are sown in month of October and would be harvested in March-April. On this day farmers pray for a promising harvest and favourable weather conditions throughout. The festival of Lohri is associated with the tales of Dullha Bhatti, one of the Bhatti Rajputs in the reign of emperor Akbar who would rescue poor from being looted by rich and girls from being sold in slave market and getting them married to the hindu boys. And it is also linked to the festival of Makar Sakranti that falls the next day of Lohri when sun moves to uttaraayan or the north direction and causes the onset of spring. Lohri is the Punjabi’s and Dogra’s cultural celebration of the winter solstice. Years and years down the lane these festivals seem to lose their sheen but yet if you get to go to the villages and the not so yet urban areas, you would feel the warmth people share on such festivals. I can smell the fragrance of that warmth, affection, heat and love. And the very thought makes me all nostalgic and crazy at the same time. I wish for a wonderful harvest this season and pray that the colours of such festivals don’t fade in our country.
With this I remember the kidz and children who go from door to door asking for Lohri with the following words:
Sunder munderiye ho,
Tera kaun vichaara ho,
Dullah Bhatti wala ho,
Dulhe di tee vyaye ho!