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Unique fest: Punjab village unites to bring together married daughters
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Lobana (Patiala), February 2
The morning fog hung heavy over Government School in Dhangera. But no one was talking about the chill: the warmth of old friendship got the better of it. The entire village had got together to celebrate “Dhiyaan da mela” (festival of daughters), for the girls and by the girls.

The married daughters of Lobana, overwhelmed by this one-of-a-kind celebration in their name, came to their village in droves - stooped on walking sticks or wearing high heels, supported by youngsters or carrying babies, some with thick-lensed specs and others with kohl-rimmed eyes, in sober browns and dull greys as also blingy reds and electric pinks.

Eighty-year-old bespectacled Chhoti, one of the few “seniors” who inaugurated the mela, bent over her walking stick, hardly able to hear, came looking for Bhelo, Preeto and Maaddo - here childhood friends.

“We used to pluck chillies in the field and weave durries together. Those were happier times. I got married and never met them again. Despite all these years between us, I’ll certainly recognise them,” she said.

As Jaswant Kaur, married in Fathegarh Sahib, caught up with friends - Jal Kiran of Kishangarh and Amar Kaur of Guthli - their laughter was almost infectious, bringing a smile to bystanders. “We left the village 50 years ago, wrapped up in bridal wear, married to men we had not even seen. Though we keep coming to our village annually, we have never been here together. It has changed remarkably. At this very place where the school now stands, we would get our cattle to graze. We would sit for hours together, weaving dreams. Life has turned out very different,” says Jaswant Kaur. Their incessant chatter over and above the cacophony of sounds made them stand out. Recently married Sona and her friends in their twenties spent the entire day exchanging notes.

“Being married is fun. We’ve got good homes. As children, we would while away time discussing the kind of husbands we wanted. Today, we have children of our own. It is unbelievable,” remarked Sona.

Mahendero of Rakha Rehra greeted her long-time friend Beebo. “She’s had a difficult life. Her brother passed away recently. It’s only friends who truly understand each other. She was pouring her heart out. I was all ears. It made me sad to think she’s alone and up against a lot,” said Beebo.

Kulwant Kaur talked to her friends about her drunkard husband and his illnesses. “I don’t know my age. I must be 70, if not 80. I don’t know when I got married. I just know I am happy to be back like this and meet everybody,” she remarked.

With nearly 600 married girls of the village coming for this maiden function, where each one was a chief guest, the organisers, the Awaz-e-Jag Janani, an all-girl initiative headed by 22-year-old Charanjit Kaur, announced that the event would be an annual feature.

“This was an attempt to reconnect to the married girls and tell them that they still belong to us. Marriage has not meant alienation and we stand with them. In the days to come, we will create awareness on other women-related issues, including female foeticide, education and nutrition,” she said.

As camaraderie filled the air and the “guests” mingled and watched song-and-dance performances by village girls.

Novel initiative

  • Around 600 married girls of Lobana village, near Nabha, attended the one-of-a-kind ‘Dhiyaan da mela’ on Sunday
  • Old and young, all mingled and watched song-and-dance performances by village girls
  • The organisers, Awaz-e-Jag Janani - an all-girl initiative, said the event would be an annual feature





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