A Punjabi event is usually a blast – loads of great music and dancing, bonhomie, ‘balle-balle’ ( the Punjabi equivalent of ‘yeah-yeah’ and the high-stepping ‘bhangra’ that encapsulates the irrepressible and exuberant spirit of these warm and fun-loving people.
The Lohri celebrations by the Punjabi Wing of the Indian Social Club on Friday (Jan 13), was all this and so much more. And as the evening progressed the energy and the excitement seemed to sweep you off your feet.
More than 300 expat Indians of the Punjabi community along with their wives, children, friends and relatives gathered on the lawns of the Indian Embassy to celebrate ‘Lohri’ a harvest festival that heralds the beginning of the end of winter, with the days starting to get longer as the sun moves away from the Tropic of Capricorn. Other Indian states also observe this festival under different names and customs, notably ‘Pongal’
in Tamil Nadu, ‘Sangkranti’ in Andhra Pradesh, and ‘Khichadi’
or ‘Makar Sankranti’ in Uttar Pradesh.
The evening began with a series of electrifying group dances, an engaging fancy dress parade by kids ranging from tiny tots to bubbly teenagers. This was followed by a group dance by married women.
A crackling bonfire lit up towards the latter part of the evening, added to the warmth and joy of the celebrations. People gathered round to throw maize and mustard into the bonfire, as a gesture to acknowledge a bountiful harvest. The kids were having the best time of course, as they went round asking for the customary Lohri gifts in the shape of sweets or money.
Earlier, His Excellency Indra Mani Pandey, India’s Ambassador to the Sultanate, addressing the gathering said such celebrations helped to foster closer ties among the expatriate Indian community and “gives us a deeper insight into the richness of our cultural diversity”.
Punjabi Wing Convenor Karanjit Matharu said Lohri gives the Punjabi community an opportunity to share their happiness with everyone.
Photos by David Solomon