It was in 1993 when about 20 people joined hands to celebrate Lohri of girls. They formed Malwa Sabhacharak Manch with Jagdev Singh Jassowal being their chief patron. Lohri of 21 newborn girls was celebrated at Mullanpur apart from honouring women doing exceptionally well in different fields.
The Manch will be celebrating 21st Lohri Mela on January 10-11 with a theme to respect girl child and celebrate their birth. K K Bawa, chairman of the manch, said, “We started by giving Rs 2,100 each to all the newborn girls less than a month old along with few gift items.
Now the amount of money has been increased to Rs 5,100 each apart from giving woollen clothes, toys and other gift items. Every year, this mela is celebrated only for girls.”
Artistes who entertain the crowd also focus on songs related to Punjab’s culture and on spreading a message to stop female foeticide. This year Sufi singer Kanwar Grewal will be entertaining the crowd at Dana Mandi on January 11 while seminars on female foeticide will be held at Punjabi Bhawan on January 10.
What is unique about this two-day mela is that woollen clothes for girls are gifted by one Rajesh Ohri, a businessman, every year and jaggery is gifted by a family from Hoshairpur. Bawa said, “We give them dry fruits to be added to this jaggery. The rest is done by themselves every year.”
He added, “To give a taste of desi items to the people who visit this mela, we give material for making sweet dish till bhugga to the family of Amarjit Singh Bawa in Riakot, who make it by crushing everything manually. Bawa’s wife makes bhugga for the mela herself.”
Bawa said the mela was started as female foeticide cases had become so common. In the first mela, it was hard to convince families to celebrate Lohri of girls as well, but now people had started accepting it. “This is a victory of our efforts,” he added.