Jan 13, Shabad Surat Sangam Ashram, Mallke, Moga: Punjab truly is a land of abundance and festivity; in traditional Punjab, one finds such hospitality which is rare to find elsewhere. Also, people of Punjab are brave, open-hearted and noble. And so are their festivals.
Lohri is a special festival of Punjab, celebrated with much enthusiasm. Though no one can pinpoint with definite certainty about its origins, but that is a problem for the historians. Whatever the true origin and reason may be for celebrating Lohri, but the joy, laughter and happiness that it spreads in the atmosphere, after dark, foggy, cold days of the winter, is a treat to the heart.
The life and setup at the Ashram utilizes everything there is to help visitors and devotees connect to the Bliss-Source inside them: be it a festival, a birthday celebration, sadhana shivirs, a marriage arranged for devotee-families and so on. So, how can the unique festival of Lohri be an exception to this tradition.
The hallmark of Lohri is the bonfire usually lighted by villagers in the village square, before which they sit, eat and chat. And one of the hallmarks of the ashram is agni – fire. So, when the two come together, the common bonfire of Lohri becomes the huge body of Agnideva, before whom devotees sit, not chat but chant, eat not jaggery and nuts but fire itself. Of course, this is followed up by singing and dancing too but this song and dance is not for entertainment but a tool to take one beyond the limits of “I” and “mine” – becoming a step to union with the divine.
All this definitely took place on Jan 13 at the ashram, like the years before. If you lived nearby and missed it, it was sad of you to have done so. But don’t miss it next time. Whether it is the approx. 10 foot tall, and almost 6 feet wide bonfire (prepared with much love and hardwork by our brother villagers); the powerful chanting of mantras; discourses by Swamiji and Sadhviji; and ofcourse, keertan-bhajan – they do leave a deep impression on your psyche. Not otherwise, could this reporter and participant have still remembered the magnificent warmth of the fire of Lohri.