Lohri

Hi everyone!

Today the festival season is back in India! We are celebrating what is called Lohri, which is something similar as winter solstice. My colleagues here in Mumbai tell me that this is mostly a Punjabi tradition and that I cannot expect it to be that much celebrated here. But I have seen that there are some plans to host an event at one of the open places close to where I live, so hopefully I will manage to take a look there. Hopefully I can get some good pictures that I can update this post with tomorrow.

During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.

The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Lohri is then distributed at night during the festival. Till, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire.

The bonfire ceremony differs depending on the location in Punjab. In some parts, a small image of the Lohri goddess is made with gobar (cattle dung) decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. In other parts, the Lohri fire consists of cow dung and wood with no reference to the Lohri goddess.

The bonfire is lit at sunset. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaries on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire. It is traditional to offer guests til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Milk and water is also poured around the bonfire by Hindus. This ritual is performed for thanking the Sun God and seeking his continued protection.

People take dying embers of the fire to their homes.

Some people back in Norway have told me that they have seen news from India that it is quite cold here, and have asked if the same is true even in Mumbai. Well, it is surely cooler than what it was during the summer that is for sure. But as a Norwegian I would hardly cal this for cold. It is actually quite nice. I have to wear a shirt with long sleeves every day, and when I take the auto it is a quite nice breeze blowing. At home I have not used the air-condition since I came back from Norway in November, and that is quite nice. But I have heard that up north it is much much colder. Even at a place like Kolkata some people have died due to the cold weather conditions, something that is very rare.

There is another festival on Friday, so I will try to tell you more about that then.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

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