Change, it is said, begins at home. At least, it does for Ajmer Singh. A teacher, posted at Government Primary School in Jalandhar’s Nathewal village, on Friday went around the village and distributed Lohri sweets and gifts to those families where girls were born last year. Accompanying him were the students of his school.
Though the festival of Lohri, which falls on January 13, is celebrated with utmost zeal in entire Punjab, it also has some age-old customs and practices attached to it. Most families in Punjab still celebrate Lohri only for newborn boys. ‘Dheeyan Di Lohri’ (Lohri for girls) is still not a widely accepted practice in Punjab.
It was in this backdrop that Ajmer Singh, alongwith an aanganwadi worker Jaswinder Kaur, went around wishing Lohri to parents of newborn girls. The teacher, spending from his own pocket, distributed sweets, toys and other gifts among the girls who will be celebrating their first Lohri. He took children along to give them value-based education.
“There are seven families in our village that welcomed girls this year. We went to each home and gave them sweets, gachak-reori, toys and other gifts. We told the parents to celebrate Lohri the way they would have done had boy been born to them. We also took children along from school to so that they know and understand that Lohri of girls should also be celebrated,” Ajmer Singh said.
He said that the sex ratio in the village has improved significantly in past few years. “In our primary school, we have 18 boys and 32 girls. The number of girls is almost double that of boys”.
Naveen Kumar, an auto-rickshaw driver, who was congratulated by the school staff on his daughter Bhavya’s first Lohri, said, “It feels good that someone came to congratulate us on our daughter’s first Lohri. Usually this custom is only for boys. I do not earn much but I will ensure that we celebrate my daughter’s first Lohri”.
Davinder Kumar, a daily wage labourer, said, “My daughter Diksha was born few days back. The teacher came to congratulate us. I have a son and another daughter. When my second daughter was born, we were equally happy. We will educate all three children.”
Village sarpanch Jeet Ram said that it was Ajmer Singh’s initiative to visit the families.