THE DULLA BHATTI MESSAGE ON LOHRI –By Dr. Malhotra
A few days ago, my friend’s son was blessed with the birth of a baby girl. My friend, the proud grandfather, while handing me a box of sweets with a smile, invited us for the Lohri celebrations at their house, saying,” Doctor Sahib, you and bhabhiji must come to bless the baby. In view of corona pandemic, I have invited only a few close friends.’
The traditional festival of Lohri is not only a festival to welcome the newly wedded bride or the birth of a child in the family, but also heralds the end of winter and harvest of rabi crops and it is celebrated on January 13, a day before Makar Sankranti.
While decades ago, it was the on the birth of a male child that the family celebrated Lohri, it is only since a few years that the birth of a girl child is seen as a cause for celebration and some families have indeed begun to treat the girl child with the same love and respect that a male child used to get !
Lohri is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor among the Punjabi community, particularly in North India.Everyone claps and dances to the beating of a dhol ( large drum) around a bonfire. The ladies attired in their colorful lehngas and salwar suits dance with gay abandon to traditional Punjabi folk and Bollywood songs and the men do an improvised bhangra dance.
As we celebrate Lohri dancing and singing to the dhol , eating til laced gachak made with jaggery or sugar, popcorn and peanuts around the fire at night followed by a sumptuous dinner, let us all remember the heroic deeds of Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim, who as per a popular Punjabi folklore, fought the Moghal Emperor, Akbar valiantly to save the honour and lives of the two young women, Sundri and Mundri, after whom the famous folk song “ Sundar Mundriyo ho …..” is sung during Lohri.
I hope and pray that we would not be mute spectators to the disrespect and abuse of the girl child and women from abuse, discrimination, and disrespect and gender bias but save them from the evil designs of those in the Society who do so, as Dulla Bhatti did years ago.
-Dr Ashwani K. Malhotra MBBS, PGDMCH, PGDMLS, is a retired Senior Medical Officer,Punjab Government,and can be reached @M-9417188867 E-mail : email@example.com