It is that time of the year again when the air is filled with sweetness of sesame bars and the winter chill is combated with a cosy, ceremonial bonfire. Festivals like Lohri are representative of Punjab’s traditional culture, but sadly people have turned a blind eye to these practices over a period of time.
This, in turn, has silently pushed the region’s distinct culture into darkness as one prefers to cope with the modern times and adopt the ‘western’ way!
Dressed in colours of the impending spring, Priyanka Kapoor of International Institute of Fashion Designing says, “In the so called contemporary world, none of our festivals are marked with tradition. Lohri celebrations have entered clubs and discos and none of the youngsters today are even aware about the relavance of the festival.”
Gurjot Singh Brar from Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) shares, “Once upon a time, the entire village or all residents of a residential colony would sit around the bonfire to enjoy the festivities with a united spirit. But, today due to high materialism and modernism, this festival has turned into a private affair for all.”
A student from Ludhiana’s Punjab Agricultural University draws a parallel between the celebration of Indian festivals abroad and in our own country. “The modern world stigma has forced us to ignore our own roots and background. If in Europe, most festivals can be marked with authentic traditions then why not in India? They are also part of modern and fast life, so what curbs us from fostering our cultural spirits in the festivals we celebrate!,” says Harman Sidhu.
On the other hand, students of Government College for Girls, Deepali Arora, Isha Bawa and Kritika Gupta, lament about how Punjabi festivals which were once marked with Giddha, Bhangra, bolis and dhol have now been replaced with live DJs. “The folk dances of Punjab are limited to only college youth festivals today. The essence of Lohri isn’t highlighted in too many Punjabi or Bollywood movies any longer either.
“The tradition of jaggo during weddings is rarely observed in today’s times,” they added.
Popularise Lohri for daughters
Traditionally, Lohri is celebrated when a son is born or married, but many families in the city are leading a change in this patriarchal mindset by celebrating the bonfire festival for their daughters. “Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Mary Kom, Sania Mirza, Kiran Bedi are Barkha Dutt are living examples of some of the most successful women in our country. So, why not celebrate their birth and shame on those who promote female foeticide,” says Surbhi Khurana from Government College for Girls with elan. Kangan Sood from Ramgarhia Girls College suggests in order to make people realise the importance of women in society, the government must start theatre campaigns to help bring about a change in the mindset on a large scale.
Punjabi NRIs homesick during festival season
It is only natural to feel home-sick during the festive season, especially when one is away from one’s own country. HT got in touch with few such people via social media websites.
19-year-old Shubdeep Singh, a business management student in Vancouver, shares, “My Punjabi friends and I are really missing our relatives in India but thanks to our college management who have asked us to celebrate Lohri in the college with other international students. As per the tradition, there will be bonfire and Indian food and sweets will be served to all students.
I am excited for it as it will enlighten students from other countries about a Punjabi festival.” Randeep Bal (28), a cab driver in Sydney for over a decade now, unfolded that to beat home sickness that arises on various Indian festivals, he usually visits a gurdwara with his family and plans to do exactly that this Lohri as well.
Similarly, Parminder Goraya from Edmonton also plans to go the gurwara along with some of his Canadian colleagues who work with him in the administration department of an educational institution. Interestingly, Mandeep Grewal (30), from Auckland has planned to watch a live Punjabi singing concert which is scheduled to be held on Lohri night.