Lohri festival: Celebrations of fertility and fanfare at Hari Om Mandir

Medinah, IL: This year also Lohri was celebrated with great fanfare at Hari Om Mandir located at 6 North 20 Medinah Road, Medinah, IL on Thursday, January 13, 2011. More than 300 people attended the function. The weather during the day didn’t deter excitement of the devotees. Lohri was celebrated with traditional food of Saag (mustard) and Makki (corn) ki roti and lassi (buttermilk), bonfire, tappes, and songs suitable for the occasion.

Lohri function has been celebrated in the North India in winter in the month of January. Families get together around bonfire to celebrate Lohri of the new born & newly married and eat foods such as dates, peanuts, bhuga (traditional India sweet and made of milk products) good for health during the winter season. Peoples in the North have migrated to other parts of India and abroad, therefore Lohri festival is celebrated throughout India and even in the foreign lands.

Surinder Kalsi, Hansa, Shobaben, Vithal bhai, Naveen bhai and Sarkar family along with the temple priests created a beautiful exhibit of traditional Lohri items. There were models of Charkha, well with utensil to draw water, front of a house with traditional paintings of Diyas (tea lights) and cut out of people with dhols.

Mrs. Usha Verma, Mrs. Aruna Lal, Mrs. Madhu Gupta, Mrs. Kamla Sharma, Mrs. Poonam Jha, Mrs Navdeep Sharma along with the volunteers came early to the temple to prepare food and Lassi for the devotees. Mrs. Suman Saxena, Chirag and Prerna Vaswani, Sangeeta Chugh, Mrs Anju Bharel, Mrs Malkeet Kaur Kalsi and several other devotees prepared Saag and Rotis at home and bought to the temple. India House also donated Saag, Makke Ki Roti and Lassi. Starting 5pm devotees started coming in large numbers to enjoy delicious food and lassi.

The program was started by traditional song “Sundar Mundariye” sung by all the volunteers. This was followed by “Jago” where Mrs. Prem Salwan, Mrs Nirmal Bagga, Mrs. Anshu Paul, Mrs Madhu Salwan, Mrs Suchitra Sarkar enacted the role of Jago. Deepak & Mona Sharma, Vijay Ghai sang bhajans in their melodious voice. This was followed by various bhajans sung by the devotees. Young kids were moving around asking Lohri from the devotees. The newly weds and the families with new born kids were blessed by the priests.

Ayodhia Salwan, Chairman Board of Trustees narrated the traditional story of traditional song, “Sundari Mundari, to the congregation. This is the tale of a man who rescued a girl from her cruel abductors and adopted her. Finally he arranged her marriage, as if she was his own daughter. These songs exhort the youth to protect the honor of their sisters and daughters, and punish those who try to dishonor them.

The program ended with Aarti and Prasad. Devotees gathered around the bonfire outside the main entrance to the temple, danced around the fire and threw puffed rice, popcorn and other munchies into the fire shouting “Aadar aye dilather jaye and sang popular folk songs to mark the occasion. Braving the cold the volunteers, Sunil Saxena, Subash Sitaraman, Anil Saxena and Saurabh Srivastava managed the parking. Mr. Subhash Sharma led the team of volunteers and devotees in preparation and presentation of an excellent depiction of Indian traditions.

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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