Coming from a Punjabi family, Lohri has always been an important part of my life growing up. It marks the beginning of the financial year for farmers and when I was a child, it was a time when the whole family would get together.
I remember how my entire family used to collect at our house to celebrate Lohri.
Kids running about, uncles and aunties catching up with each other, and an unlimited supply of food. Lohri has definitely etched some happy memories in my mind.
Even though I still suck at it but my favourite part was when the whole family used to gather around on the terrace in the morning to fly kites. It was our own way of fusing two fun festivals -- Makar Sankranti (which is a day after) and Lohri.
I still remember how mesmerised I used to be looking at all the different colours of kites in the clear blue sky. My cousins would be at each other's neck to win the kite competition.
And every Lohri, my father would wake up early in the morning and go buy some wood for the bonfire and he always made sure to take me along with him.
Lohri is definitely the reason why I know how to light a mean bonfire.
But as I grew up, I realised that the festival is something only people from Punjab can relate to.
So, when I moved away for college to another state, Lohri was just another day for the people around me and I began to miss the old times. While it wasn't the celebratory day it always, it still was a good excuse to reconnect with my relatives and cousins. Wishing them and listening to the dhol sounds made me feel at peace. Connected to my roots.
After speaking to the fifty relatives and cousins that were busy celebrating the festival back home with my parents, nostalgia hit me so hard that I was extremely home-sick.
But instead of being upset about it for too long, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I asked around in my college if anyone wants to chill by a bonfire and of course, a lot of people volunteered enthusiastically.
Thanks to my father training me in lighting the perfect bonfire, I managed to do it all by myself within a few minutes. It was an extremely proud moment for me. And it wouldn't have been possible without the festival I cherish even more now.
I asked everyone to bring in whatever they wanted to -- Snacks, beer, popcorn while I bought the peanuts and gajjak.
After getting the party started, I informed everyone that the sole reason for this bonfire was to feel at home and celebrate Lohri. I also expressed how thankful I was to everyone for showing up and to my surprise, almost everyone had some experience dedicated to the festival. Even if it was just learning about it in Veer-Zara.
Thanks to me, my college friends and I continued this tradition of lighting a bonfire every Lohri to celebrate the joyous festival.
As time went by and we went from college to our working lives, Lohri began to fade away amidst the 9 to 5 hustle-bustle. And I'm back to considering the occasion as just any other day. However, I still have fond memories of my hometown and college days.
I may not have bonfires, dhol, or college evenings on Lohri anymore. But the wishes and the endless chats with my family will always bring back my sense of belonging. And every Lohri, I will always remember the joy this beautiful festival brought to me.