I remember the crackle of the fire as we danced around it singing the beautiful song "Sundri Mundi". I even remember the colorful Punjabi suit I had on which actually resembled my moms. It was fiery orange with hints of gold speckles that twinkled in certain angles.
I was absolutely engulfed in my culture. I adored all the holidays that I could celebrate and all the stunning outfits I could wear. I am still proud to identify myself as Punjabi. Yet, I will admit I have been ignorant towards my own culture. I know that is not ideal, but at least I am being honest with myself.
I have always celebrated all Punjabi holidays from as long as I can remember. Though I never took the time to actually understand them. The bigger holidays such as Diwali, the festival of lights, were easy to understand. However, the other holidays made little sense to me. I had an idea what they were, but never took the time to fully comprehend the meaning behind them. Today, January 13, 2019, is marked as Lohri. I have been celebrating Lohri since I was little, but my idea about why it is celebrated was totally inaccurate.
Lohri is a Punjabi holiday that is normally celebrated in Punjab, India. It is celebrated with family and friends getting together and hanging around a bonfire while singing multiple folk songs. Some of which include the famous song Sundri Mundri. However, what I did not know was that this song is sung in honor of someone very important in Punjab. I used to think that Lohri was celebrated so that family and friends could celebrate new beginnings.
However, Lohri actually dates back to being celebrated in honor of Dulla Bhatti. Now I know this might be starting to look like an informal history paper but hear me out. This guy Dulla Bhatti was nicknamed to be the "Robinhood of Punjab" for his work. Bhatti lived in the time period that Raja Akbar ruled who ended up murdering Bhatti. Bhatti was a strong-willed man and even to his last breath stayed true to himself. As he faced death he said the famous last words, "No honorable son of Punjab will ever sell the soil of Punjab".
His legacy continues in the song and the holiday because he single-handedly started a feminist movement in Punjab. He was the hero that saved young Punjabi females from being sold in slavery and helped create a bright future for them by paying for their wedding dowries. The holiday that I celebrated just so that I could dress up and play around the fire had much more importance than I was aware of. I am sure that a lot of people do not know why Lohri is celebrated or never bothered to ask. I am also sure that other cultures have their share of holidays which people just celebrate because that's the way it is. Though I am glad that I took the time and found out why this Lohri is celebrated and paid my respect to the man who has inspired me and so many others.
Next time when I see the crackle of the fire and Sundri Mundri playing I can thank Dulla Bhatti for being the "Robinhood of Punjab".