A Punjabi harvest festival became a melting pot of people from across society on Friday night. The Lohri celebrations saw the participation of people from all communities.
Lohri is celebrated to mark the end of peak winter. This festival is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crop. Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial New Year. It is not a religious programme but more of a social get-together.
A bonfire, singing and dancing and food are integral parts of Lohri. At the Hyatt Regency lawns on Friday, guests were welcomed with a folk troupe from the Malwa region of Punjab. They sang folk songs and danced bhangra to the beat of dhols.
“Lohri is a Punjabi harvest festival. It showcases our culture. Over the years, people in Kolkata have also come to wait for this. Men, women and children, young and old, everybody takes part in the celebrations,” said Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, a leader of the Punjabi community and the host of Friday’s celebrations.
Guests sprinkled popcorn and sesame seeds into the bonfire, shaking a leg every now and then.
A “specially curated menu from undivided Punjab” was one of the highlights of the celebrations.
Apart from members of various communities, diplomats and army and police officers were among the attendees. “The diverse community of Kolkata came together to share this bonhomie, enumerating brotherhood between communities irrespective of religious boundaries. These festivals are the symbols of our shared ethos and culture,” said Ahluwalia, chairman of the IHA Foundation.