The Singhu border was lit up Thursday evening with big and small Lohri fires burning at every few steps. However, the usual revelry of song and dance was replaced by a more solemn celebration as farmers burnt the farm laws in what they said was a ‘Black Lohri’.
The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmers which had given the call to burn copies of the law, was the first to light its Lohri bonfire around 5:30 pm, before the sun had set.
The harvest festival is among the biggest in Punjab and is celebrated to mark the end of winter solstice.
Farmer leaders threw copies of the law in the fire and raise slogans, as the song ‘kisaanan de faisle, kisan karuga’ (Farmers will decide on farmers’ matters) played in the background.
Darshan Pal of the Krantikari Kisan Union said, “We have burnt the laws as a symbol of burning of evil and the victory of good. The government will have to repeal these laws. Similar Lohris will be burnt all over the country.”
As the sun set, bonfires were lit across the protest site. But unlike the usual popcorn, peanuts and rewri offered to the fire, the bonfires here were mostly fed copies of the three farm laws.
Among those who burnt the copy was singer Diljit Dosanjh’s uncle Shingara Singh Dosanjh (69), a retired school teacher popularly known as ‘Master’.
“If it was a khushi ki lohri, we would have put all the edible items we usually do, but why would we do that now? Farmers are dying here but the PM is yet to visit us. Real Lohri will happen once these laws are repealed,” said Dosanjh from Dosanjh Kalan near Jalandhar, Punjab.
Vijay Dahiya from Sonepat, Haryana, came to Delhi Thursday after having already spent a short period in the protest. “We came here to celebrate the festival with farmers, to burn the laws. But this is a Black Lohri for us. Usually we would celebrate with families back home, this time we are forced to celebrate it here,” he said.
At one of the bigger Lohri fires, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims huddled together in the warmth. It was one of the few where the protesters offered peanuts, but even this was devoid of music or dance.
Among them was Palwinder Singh, a resident of Toronto, Canada, who had come to India in December after his father’s death but decided to stay back for the farmers’ protest.
“This is the first time in 23 years that I’m celebrating Lohri, and the feeling is overwhelming. To sit here with brothers of all faiths and fight for their rights gives me immense pride. I came here today to celebrate Lohri, after which I’ll return to my village near Ludhiana. But I will be back on January 26 for the parade,” said Singh, who’s a truck driver in Canada.
Nawab Ali, an elderly farmer from Yamuna Nagar in Haryana, said he had decided to participate in Lohri festivities just like he did back home. “We have always celebrated all festivals and we will continue to do. Nobody can break our brotherhood, and we will not turn back till the laws are repealed,” he said.
At a Lohri bonfire by women was Harvinder Kaur from Sangrur, Punjab.
“I have been here for seven days but my husband has been here from the beginning. We will not go back till the laws go. Today we are only burning the law, actual Lohri celebrations will begin when the law is repealed,” she said.
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