Changing contours of Lohri
A Muslim highway robber Dulla Bhatti, besides robbing the rich, rescued Hindu girls who were forcibly taken to the slave market of the Middle East and put on sale. He arranged their marriages to Hindu boys with proper rituals and even provided them dowries.
A good years down the line, kids knocked at the doors of their respective neighbours and sang out praises of Dulla Bhatti, and take peanuts, jaggery and money back home. Some more years down the line, they now gather around a modern console playing Rambo Rambo by Jazzy B followed by Honey Singh’s number Jado panga pai jaavey. Dulla Bhatti and his tales of bravado find place only on the reference engine - Wikipedia, which is unearthed once in a while.
Sundar mundariye, hoye. Tera kaun vichaara, hoye. Dulla Bhatti wala….. The folklore echoes in some villages of Punjab and in no time is overpowered by a hit Punjabi number - Dil laye gayi kudi Punjab di.
Moga-based Punjabi singer, Barkat Sidhu, who finds a world of difference in the Lohri celebrations now, says: “Who sings Dulla Bhatti these days; not even the kids. They are more than glad to dance on hit Punjabi numbers. Hun puraney Lohri gaaney nahin labdey.” He even sings out two lines from the folklore - Huka vey Huka eh ghar bukha.
Says Punjabi singer Amrinder Gill of Dildaariyan fame, who sees the influx of contemporary themes and lyrics in the present day Lohri-based songs: “Some Punjabi songs are crafted keeping the Lohri and Dulla Bhatti theme in mind. However, Lohri songs no longer express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti. Forget about the songs, the younger generation does not have any clue about the importance of the festival.”
All said and done, one wonders why the songs are losing their sheen? One wonders whether it is the changing tastes, where dancing to a deejay is considered a ‘celebration’ or folklores now find place only in restricted circles?
Punjabi singer Pammi Bai seconds Amrinder’s opinion. “It is the other way round, Punjabis living in Punjab are moving away from their tradition and culture, while those staying abroad find an anchor in the rich heritage of Punjab.” At the same time, Pammi Bai feels that one cannot blame any Punjabi singer for moving away from the traditional Lohri songs. “Festivals have taken a contemporary connotation. Today, people want to sit around the bonfire, sing and dance to the dhol as well as to the tunes of the deejay. A separate Lohri is celebrated in every house with family members and friends sitting around the bonfire, unlike the times when the entire ‘mohallah’ would get together and dance to the beats of the dhol.”
But for Punjabi singer Inderjeet Nikku aka Nikqu Singh, not everything is lost. “I still begin my performance on Lohri with a a Lohri song, Putar na hundey tan eh raunkaa na hundiyan.”
“But it is the audience that would want me to move from traditional to more happening numbers,” he ponders.
Sundar Mundariye, Hoye! The tales of the brave messiah get dim. Aaaya main gaddi mod key, Jazzy B is alive and kicking!
Home away from home
Connect to the Net, attach a webcam, adjust the volume, and then focus on the ‘online’ bonfire while wishing happy Lohri to all your relatives and friends. Or just shut down the computer, give your friends a call, gather, light a bonfire and then sing and dance together. Take your pick!
Those who find the second idea more appealing can take cue from these youngsters, who are away from their homes but make sure that Lohri is celebrated the way it is supposed to be.
Deepa Sharma, a bank manager, has been working in Pune since the last four years. Away from her hometown Chandigarh, hasn’t made a difference though, except that she now celebrates Lohri not with her family but friends.
“Even if the temperature in Pune is high, we light a bonfire and dance around it. The festival is a good occasion for a get-together with friends from the region, who also love the festival.”
As Lohri delicacies aren’t available in Pune, her friends from Punjab begin to make arrangements a few days before the festival. “Anyone who goes back to Punjab on New Year has to get the Lohri sweets like gachak, revris and bhugga. Rest of the stuff like groundnut and popcorn can be arranged here,” she says.
For Ankush Singla, a student of IICFAI, Hyderabad, Lohri celebrations mean partying around a bonfire. “This party is not conducted the usual way, with music, drinks, food and lights. Music is all about pure Punjabi songs, food is Punjabi too and there are no lights except the huge bonfire,” he says.
“Not many students know about this North Indian festival and it’s a novel experience for them. They enjoy the bonfire and dance on Punjabi numbers; something that they have only seen in movies,” adds Ankush, who hails from Chandigarh.
Nikhil Gupta, a software engineer in HCL, and his friends from the region celebrate Lohri in their own special way. “We don’t want to miss out on the fun that our friends have back home. Although arrangements aren’t made on a grand scale, we light up a small bonfire on our terrace,” he says.
Staying in Chennai since the last three years, it is Punjabi food that Nikhil misses the most. “Lohri gives us an occasion when we can cook butter chicken, shahi paneer and paranthas. The limited Punjabi menu we prepare is like a grand feast,” he adds.
Mumbai stands true to its cosmopolitan tag, as not just Punjabis but even locals enjoy Lohri. Natasha Munjal, an LPO employee, was surprised when on her first Lohri in Mumbai she was invited for celebrations by people in her locality. “It is celebrated just the way it is in Punjab. People from Punjab as well as the locals enjoy the festival equally.”
Which way would you want to celebrate Lohri now?
North meets East and how!
Ever thought why the easternmost part of India is referred to as the northeast whereas the western as simply the west? Certainly not due to the whims and fancies of geographers who demarcated the regions. In fact, it goes much beyond the latitudes and longitudes. It has mostly to do with culture. Let us explain how. North and northeast may be poles apart in terms of language, food habits or even the mindset of people, but there is one day in the year where the two parts amalgamate into one - January 13.
This is the day when Assam celebrates Bihu with equal fervour as Punjab does Lohri. As North India gets ready to light up the ritual fire, so does Assam. As Punjabis prepare for a night of feast, so do Assamese.
Although the tradition in Assam goes a little wilder, with feasting groups getting a social nod to go stealing bamboo fencings or veggies from kitchen gardens or a chicken or two from the backyard of the inhabitants. It’s difficult to pinpoint how and why the tradition began, but wise people attribute it to the theory of re-distribution of wealth (?). Who knows! And frankly speaking, who cares? Who has the time to dwell on the past and find out the reason for why things are the way they are. The fun of stealing is lost anyways. What used to be clashes of wit and endurance (wit of the young boys and girls on the lookout of goodies and endurance of the victims who are on constant torch light vigils) on the Uruka (the night of the community feast). In cities like Guwahati where does one find bamboo fences to steal? Even vegetables are now grown in pots on the terraces. Thanks to the haphazard urbanization! Well, coconut trees have managed to survive the onslaught, but then climbing up is too much of hardwork and chances are the man with the torch would have better chances of beating the creatures of the dark. So, it’s time to seek the easy way out. The chickens now come from the nearby poultry farm, vegetables from the trucks that come from Punjab and the fish from Andhra Pradesh. The rivulets, which used to yield the fish required for the night have gone dry and are now filled with colourful polythene bags.
Chances are that even the pithas and laddos that would be served to visitors after the night would come from the shelves of Big Baazar or Easy Day outlets. All in all, not lagging far behind Punjab where Lohri celebrations too have gone the Christmas or Valentine Day way, with discothèques and restaurants offering special packages. So much for tradition, but then tradition is no longer what it used to be!
An eventful journey
Great looks, amazing body and a style to carry yourself are the prime requisites for anyone looking for a career in the glamour industry, says Simran Kaur Mundi, Pantaloon Femina Miss India Universe-2008. In tricity, to judge the Chandigarh audition round of the Miss India 2010, Simran exchanges quick notes on her journey from being a participant to being the judge.
"It was an amazing journey with mostly ups. Miss India is the right platform if you want to make it big in the glamour industry and puts you in the slab of top models instantly", she says.
And, what made her win the crown? "Tremendous confidence in myself," she offers. "I am very strong emotionally with hardly any insecurities. I firmly believe if you are set to achieve something, no one can stop you. The day you lose confidence in yourself, your downfall starts," she adds.
The new glossy hair girl of L'Oreal is happy to have just completed her new assignments for Airtel (with Dhoni) and a Vodka brand. And, as regards the eternal speculations about her Bollywood entry, she says, "After winning Miss India, it's incredibly easy to land up in movies but equally difficult is to make the right choice. The day I get the right opportunity, I will grab it," she laughs.
Visiting Chandigarh a couple of times, this girlie loves to explore City Beautiful. "I look forward to be at Sukhna Lake and 17 Plaza when I visit the city," she says.
As for the wannabe Miss Indias "Just be confident," she shoots.
The audition round of the Pantaloons Femina
Miss India 2010 pageant was held in Chandigarh on Tuesday at the
Pantaloons store, Zirakpur. Simran Kaur Mundi, thoroughly assessed the
25 enthusiastic applicants. The six girls were selected from Chandigarh
are: Aprajita Sharma, Deepti Chauhan, Disha Sharan, Neha Sharma,
Rupinder Kaur and Piyu Jagia. The shortlisted contestants will compete
in the Regional Rounds in New Delhi and Mumbai.
The audition round of the Pantaloons Femina Miss India 2010 pageant was held in Chandigarh on Tuesday at the Pantaloons store, Zirakpur. Simran Kaur Mundi, thoroughly assessed the 25 enthusiastic applicants. The six girls were selected from Chandigarh are: Aprajita Sharma, Deepti Chauhan, Disha Sharan, Neha Sharma, Rupinder Kaur and Piyu Jagia. The shortlisted contestants will compete in the Regional Rounds in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Mind the calories
It's biting, chilling and freezing. Albeit more adjectives are available for this weather, let's rather talk about something that warms us up - the festival of Lohri.
In this weather when not even a bird likes to flutter its wings, Punjabis warm up with a festival that welcomes the change in season (Lohri marks the end of winter and ushers in the summers), celebrates fertility as well as sweetness and joy of life.
And talking of sweetness in life, eating of til (sesame seeds), gachak, and rorhi or gur (jaggery) is considered essential on Lohri. But considering our fitness freak janta and their health consciousness, we take a quick calorie count of food items that are consumed on this day, and ask the dieticians to list out their advantages and disadvantages.
Says Sonia Gandhi, clinical nutritionist, Fortis Hospital, Mohali: "Nothing is bad for health, but what has to be kept in mind is the fact that all these things need to be consumed in moderation." Ask her about the calorie count and she says, "The intake has to vary as per the need. For example, kids need more calories, a cardiac or hypertension patient needs to avoid all these things - peanuts, rewari, gachak etc."
Listing the calories, she says: "Twenty grams of gur has approximately 20 calories, 15 grams of til or sesame seeds would have 60-65 calories, 15 grams of peanuts would approximately have 80 calories. Also we don't have them alone, they come as a package deal and calories increase when they are mixed together."
But for Punjabis, eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is essential on this day; perhaps the words til and rorhi merge to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri!
Anyways, talking about these items and their calorific value, Nalini Mahajan, Panchkula-based dietician, says, "Til, rewari, gachak, peanuts and popcorns are good for health. We cannot eschew them on basis of high calories, but before eating them one must keep certain things in mind. Peanuts are high in essential fatty oils; one must have them but not at night and whenever we have nuts remember to have green tea as it cuts down on calories. Til gives warmth to the body and one must have it in this cold weather, but a handful is enough. For gachak, 2-3 pieces are more than enough. And the golden rule --- have only a palm full of things as this is what the body needs."
"Avoid roasted or salted peanuts as they are high in calories, dry up the throat and cause irritation. For popcorns, avoid butter and salted ones," she adds.
Well, now knowing the calorie count of things, take your pick and have a healthy Lohri!
Lighting it up… on the campus
When the fire's the brightest, the music loudest and the mood liveliest …for all the Lohris to come the one you spent with friends in hostel, stretching up till wee hours, sleeping through the lectures the next day, would be perhaps remembered, rather recalled, the most.
Don't very few things qualify to be shared as 'living room tales' or 'dining table stories' or 'those were the days' memories? The bonfire remains, so does the earsplitting music, as does the curios, the confetti …the 'X' factor of Lohri goes much beyond the indispensables.
Whoever believes it's the time to hurry back home, think again. "I rarely go home for Lohri because here in the hostel it's much more loud and much more fun. With friends, music…I prefer to stay back. We have a disc jockey till nine and later we go out for dinner and then keep up chatting till late," Kajal Bhatia, BDS student, Panjab University, lists the pluses in one go.
Does she find an echo? Garima Hooda, final-year student, MCM, shares, "We have Lohri celebrations in college which I don't remember going to, but the one in hostel when I was in first-year had everything like the DJ party - the bonfire and stuff like that. I think the ideal celebrations would be the one with both family and friends."
If asked to choose between the two, albeit both carry their own charm, one always wins. Laughs Simarpreet Singh, another student, "Going by the sheer numbers, we get to celebrate it thrice. There's invariably one in the department and the other at the Students' Centre thrown by the Panjab University Campus Students Council. And, of course, the last and the best at our respective hostels. No doubt, it scores over all others because this is the one that happens during evenings, when there is privacy of your own hostel and a huge gathering." Adds Kajal, "In fact, many of my day-scholar friends wish to come and join me, but they are not allowed."
Someone winks, they are not allowed doesn't mean they don't enter! "At times, we just go around, see what's happening at other hostels on the campus and just settle for a few hours at whatever place we like before shifting onto other venues," he chuckles.
Milleret, a Swiss watch company, brought to India by the House of Vee Line Jewels and Watches Pvt. Ltd, has launched a festive scheme, which promises to make this season truly sparkling.
The offer includes a free diamond pendant worth Rs 5000 on every purchase up to Rs 50,000. On any purchase from Rs 50,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh, the company is offering a diamond pendant worth Rs 5,000 with a chain. Adding glitter to the festive season, a diamond pendant worth Rs 10,000 along with a chain is been given on every purchase of Rs 1,50,000 and above.
Vinod Doshi, managing director, Vee Line Jewels and Watches, stated, "Milleret watches are perfect for this festive occasion as diamonds are eternal and each Milleret is a masterpiece, a subtle combination of luxury and styled extravagance. Each Milleret watch is designed using top Wesselton diamonds and reflects timeless appeal and style."
The collection includes Anaconda, with its pure and aesthetic lines creates an original and harmonious expression of feminity, La Pavee representing a passion for excellence in stunning combinations of black and white, The Diva representing timeless elegance and a tribute to the modern woman; and Eighteen Forever square watches offering a stylish combination of a solid gold surrounded with glittering diamonds.
This offer is valid till February and is available at Ethos in Chandigarh. — TNS
New fabrics replace the old ones every year but what have remained constant are cotton and silk. There's no replacement or substitutes, the reason every trousseau still has suits or saris in silk. The Silk Mark expo, 2010 confirms the popularity of silk yet again by bringing to the city silks from 15 states.
The exhibition at Kisan Bhavan-35 has 65 stalls that has on display dress material and home furnishings. "The silk material on display here is 100 per cent pure," says S.L. Jain, senior executive, Silk Mark Organisation of India.
Yash fabrics from Delhi has put on sale saris, suits, kurtis and dupattas. There is not much difference in the traditional saris of Varanasi except for the designs and patterns. Akhtar Ali of Benarasi saris stall says, "The demand for silk saris is still huge. The patterns of saris are changed as per the recent trend". There are a total of eight stalls of Benarasi saris at the exhibition. The walcum silk saris from Azamgarh are considerably expensive for the silk quality used and three months period it takes to complete one.
All the four varieties of silk, tussar, mulberry, erei and muga are available here. Also, one can get home furnishings stuff from bed covers, bed sheets, quilt covers, pillow covers to curtains from here. Vamshi Creations from Bengaluru is a must-check for its mulberry silk bed covers.
The Jharkhand government-sponsored Jhar Craft has saris and suits made in organic silk. "No artificial means are used to take out silk from the cocoon which produces silk in a purer form," says manager of the Jhar Craft. Also the silk Bandhini saris from Jaipur are worth a bargain.
On till January 17. — TNS