The festival of Lohri is celebrated in various states that shiver in the north’s cold, but its lineage is linked to Punjab. Be it to acknowledge winter’s solstice or to celebrate a successful harvest of the Rabi crop, Lohri has many inferences.
While Lohri songs still shower praises on legendary hero Dulla Bhatti, who is said to save girls from being sold off in the Middle East’s slave market and arrange their weddings, the tradition suffered some mutations over a period of time, as a result of which, it became a reason to celebrate the birth of a boy while girls turned into objects of scorn.
In a country battling the shame of female foeticide, there are now fervent efforts being made to bestow glory on the girl child. Lohri is the perfect time to reinforce this point. On Thursday, CITCO, in association with Big 92.7 FM, took the initiative to devote this year’s Lohri to the girl child, calling the event that took place at Sukhna Lake, ‘Kudiyan Di Lohri’ (Lohri for the girls).
As families, who welcomed baby girls last year, gathered around a roaring bonfire, an unspoken pledge seemed to have been taken – to respect God’s special gift that comes packaged as a daughter. Also present to lend their support were Punjabi singers Juggy D and Geeta Zaildar, both fathers to a 15-month-old and 6-year-old daughter respectively. The two singers share their joy of having a daughter in the house.
British Indian singer Juggy D, 32, is the voice behind popular collaborations such as Nahin Jeena (2002), Dance With You (2003) and Sohniye (2004). He says, “I am father to a little angel, who is my world. I love her more than anything and feel blessed to have been gifted with a little girl in my family. On the occasion of Lohri, I would like to send a message to the negligent and selfish people who don’t respect girls, to start valuing them. We should all pledge to not discriminate between boys and girls in Punjab, a land that gave birth to many brave women.” Juggy believes the birth of a baby girl should be celebrated with the same gusto as that of a boy. The singer, who is on a three-month India tour following the release of his album, Punjabi Rockstar last month, promises to be heard in Bollywood soon.
Seeti Marke singer Geeta Zaildar, 33, is known for his peppy Punjabi numbers that include Nain, Kamlee Hoyee and the recent, Thumka. Says this SAS Nagar-based artiste, “I appreciate the effort of the Chandigarh Administration, which should be turned into a regular feature in Punjab. Girls deserve an equal status in the society. Lohri, being a festival associated with happiness, should be taken as an opportunity to celebrate the blessing of a girl child. Today, girls have proven that they are more intelligent than boys and efficient in all the fields that they choose to work in.”
Geeta, who made his acting debut last year in Punjabi film Pinky Moge Wali, will be seen this year in Viyah 70 Km, a film that also stars Harish Verma. The new year also witnessed the release of his music album, Heartbeat 2.