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Thursday, January 20, 2022

And the spirit of Lohri prevails yet again in Solan…

Lohri, the traditional harvest festival which marks the last sowing of the Rabi crop, is definitely an experience worth placing on your bucket list, if on a trip to Himachal. Braving the biting chill, people make it a point to wear bright smiles and dance to mesmerizing folk tunes around huge bonfires, offering a fascinating glimpse into the culture and traditions of the inhabitants of this region. Such was the atmosphere in Solan, the industrial hub of Himachal too on Thursday. Markets buzzing with activity and sweet shops beckoning eager buyers were testimony to the fact that the darkness and gloom of the pandemic were brushed aside to fill the atmosphere with joy, albeit temporarily.


Over the years, though this festival too has lost most of its traditional touch in this hill state, shops adorned with various Lohri items in different markets of the city indicated otherwise.Shopkeepers in Solan were a happy lot as brisk business was seen in stalls selling groundnut, jaggery,’revdi’ and ‘gajak’,traditional sweets made out of sugar, sesame seeds and jaggery. Roadside stalls selling the same stuff were also set up.


Lohri prayers were offered at temples at around 7.30 pm on Thursday.Amongst these was the Sanatan Dharma temple, where Lohri prayers were offered with great fervour. The festival was celebrated with great enthusiasm in Lower Bazar on Mall road, where businessmen were engaged in preparations since morning.Prayers and groundnut offerings were made followed by a distribution of ‘prasad’.


Shopkeeper Ranjit told this reporter that Lohri sales this year were better than last year, but rising inflation had put a strain on the pockets of buyers. According to him, prices had increased by Rs 20 to Rs 30. Varsha, a customer felt that Lohri being a part of the state’s culture had to be celebrated anyway, even if there is a pandemic going around and keeping in mind the situation, it has to be celebrated accordingly. A similar atmosphere prevailed in the rural areas of Solan too. People here give fruits, dry fruits along with peanuts, ‘revadi’ and ‘gajak’ to their families during the festival. Different kinds of ‘Pinni’, another traditional sweet is also another speciality of this festival, largely popular in Solan.


The traditional spirit of Lohri has all but died down in the state, particularly the groups of little children going door to door beating drums asking for a Lohri offering in villages.A few such groups of children were seen some time back but sadly they have vanished since the pandemic struck. Old customs have paved way for new ones, decades old traditions have been lost in an era where even rituals are possible digitally. One can only hope then that these little groups of children ushering in Lohri with their cheerful smiles appear again to spread the message of joy, brotherhood and all that Lohri stands for.

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