If there’s one thing that we Indians are known for, it is our unabashed love for festivals. We don’t spare a reason or a season to celebrate and the crescendo is not just restricted to our homes but we open our doors and hearts to welcome as many to join in the fun.
The advent of the New Year marks the transition of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere thus mellowing the bitter chill. Considered as the “Wheat Bowl Of India”, Punjab looks forward to the harvest of their rabi crops. The winter solstice celebrated on the 13th of January as Lohri is a day of revelry for the farmers – a day to chill out and celebrate the bountiful harvest. There are bonhomie, happiness, celebration, and Bhangra.
Even though every Lohri that I have celebrated had bonfires and the propitiation of fire by way of sweets, peanuts, and popcorn, it was the celebration right after our wedding that holds warm, fuzzy memories. The first Lohri for a newly-married couple is a huge thing in Punjabi families. Coming from a
I remember waking up to the clink and clank of cups and pans and the sweet aroma wafting into the room. Bhiru Bhaiya, the family khansama was busy crushing peanuts in a mortar pestle while my mother-in-law or mama as I called her, was stirring jaggery in a big kadai. She was making “Til
Decked in the intricately embroidered fuschia suit and heavy jewelry gifted by my mother-in-law to me, I looked a bride again. Dressed in a dhoti kurta and a deep pink turban matching my outfit, my 6 feet 3-inch tall husband looked dapper himself. The guests filtered in with their gift tokens of blessings. My family arrived with huge thalis filled with sweets, fruits, and dry fruits. Shawls were gifted to all the relatives.
Soon everyone flocked around the bonfire and started singing the “Sunder
As everyone sang the song with gusto and fiesta,
As a demure bride, I watched all the fun while in my heart I wished I could throw caution to the winds and join the frenzy gathering in their shimmy and go “Ho! Ho!” myself. As if he could read my mind, Sam locked his fingers with mine, gently whispered “Go for it babe” before pulling me into the crowd. It was at that moment where I merged as a bahu with my new family – laughing, dancing and being a part of them. Deep into the night when most of the guests had gone, a few of us sat around the glowing embers. Between passing bowls of popcorn, chikki, til ke ladoos, rewari, peanuts, and chomping on them, I heard family stories and funny anecdotes of Sam’s growing up years.
New beginnings! Yes, Lohri does mark new beginnings for newlyweds. For me, it was not just getting acquainted with the relatives and friends on a casual level for the first time but drawing closer to my new family.
Though we have continued to celebrate Lohri every year since then and nothing much has changed in the way it has been celebrated, every year the size of the bonfire and the number of friends that join in has reduced. In our house too, Bhiru Bhaiya works no more due to his old age and mama passed away a few years ago. With the growing environmental awareness and the need for saving trees the concept of bonfires may soon die altogether. Perhaps, the e-cards or WhatsApp messages will replace friends being present physically. Nothing is constant in this life, isn’t it? Except for this recipe that I hold in my family archives. Thank God, when everything changes the taste of these til
Pin for future reference: