Three days in the month of January, right in the middle of the month, 13,14,15, are celebrated in different parts of the country by different names – Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal.
My household celebrates Makar Sankranti on the 14th of this month to mark the transmigration of the Sun from one Rashi to the next (Makar or Capricorn). The ways of celebration are more or less cleanliness driven, at least in my house. The house is spotlessly cleaned. Everyone takes a bath early in the morning <I remember as kids, my siblings, three cousins and I used to have a competition as to who would be the first one all bathed and dressed on sankranti 🙂 > There are small fires lit in front of the doorsteps for those passing by to warm themselves on the cold Delhi mornings and helpings of moongfali <groundnut>, rewari and tillpatti <sweets made of sesame seeds> and popcorn.
After my marriage in a Punjabi family, I celebrated Lohri instead, on the 13th of the month. The first Lohri of a married couple is a big affair in Punjabi families and I was really excited to be a part of this tradition. A number of guests had been invited. The open garden/ area in front of our house was decorated, caterers were called and in general there was a lot of excitement in the air. There was a dress code for the ladies – a parandi in the hair :). It was the first function that I was celebrating as a part of my ‘new’ house and I loved the fact that my opinions were especially being taken into consideration . I made the invites and my MIL was happy with the outcome 🙂
The main function started at about 7 PM. A huge bonfire was lit in the middle of the ground. There was a punjabi dhaba in the corner complete with traditional cots ‘charpai’, and ‘makke di roti and sarso da saag’ stalls. There were dholak walas dressed up in typical punjabi attire in bright colors. There was a studio setup in the corner < MIL’s idea – she is a super creative head I tell you! > and <much to my dislike 😦 > there was a bar too. I dressed up in a <blingy, heavy, so unlike me> salwar kurta and yes the parandi. 🙂 MIL, SIL, cousins, aunts from the neighbourhood, friends and relatives, inspite of the chill in the air at that time of the year in Delhi, we were all flaunting our dresses without any sweaters and shawls. My side of the family arrived after a while as well. This time, I was to be their host <Dunno how that’s supposed to feel, any comments on that anyone>
So anyways, greeting everyone, meeting everyone, we soon started with the actual event – lighting the bonfire. FIL & MIL started the fire and then everyone started moving around it throwing groundnuts, popcorn, rewaris etc. in the fire. I think there was a song too <can’t remember very well now> And with that – started the pride of every punjabi house – dance. Now, I am a very shy and awkward dancer and I had been told so many times by so many people that in order to really enjoy, I ought to dance 🙂 which I hadn’t done in any of my wedding functions. Almost similar, probably more is my FIL’s dancing capability and enthusiasm. So, on that day, I had decided that no matter how big a fool of myself I make, I am going to dance. The part which helped big time was the punjabi boliyaan which the dhol walas were so enthusiastically repeating, forcing everyone to put on their dancing shoes. I danced so much, much to the surprise of my parents, siblings, cousins, relatives, and most of all – my husband, that I broke my heels <gasp!> This is where the function being right outside your house helps. I quickly changed the footwear to dance some more, yet again .
After we had all danced for what seemed like hours, guests started eating and MIL <Let me call her Mom, MIL so doesnt feel like I am talking about her :), and just to avoid confusion, Mom, Dad – MIL/ FIL; Mummy, Papa – My parents> started saying goodbyes with her wonderfully and thoughtfully chosen and packed return gifts. As per the tradition, I got lovely gifts from her and I gave some to my <younger> SIL. After all the guests had left, was the time for our photo session. And then exhausted with all the dancing and yet perked up with enthusiasm, we called it a day.
Today, exactly an year later, on 13 Jan 2014, I am so missing my first Lohri!
Wish you all a wonderful Lohri, Sankranti and Pongal friends!