Lohri unites the community – LETTER

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| Klang, Malaysia | Letter | 17 Aug 2015 | Asia Samachar |

Klang-lohree-letter-1508b

Lohri. I saw the article recently where the Klang gurdwara voted for not having the bonfire and celebrating lohri. A lot of the comments were that, yes, all Gurdwaras should implement this. It’s a Hindu celebration and it used to celebrate the birth of sons. I completely agree with this based on those two points but I think there is something that is being overlooked here.

I’m from Klang, Selangor. Lohri, also spelt as lohree, was celebrated with a bonfire since I was a kid there. It always had a different meaning to me. It was at the start of the year, with schools were just starting. When we went to gurdwara during lohri, there was kirtan, we got loads of sweets and there was a ‘cool’ bonfire at the end of which we threw sesame seeds in. You say the magic words: issar (always thought this meant good luck) aye delidar (laziness) jaye, delidar di jar chule paye. It was all very hocus pocus, but to a kid pretty cool.

This letter is in response to the following Asia Samachar news item: 

Klang gurdwara AGM rejects lohree bonfire

I completely understand this is not part of the Sikh religion but I think what is being forgotten here is, it’s part of the Malaysian Sikh culture. Officially the Sikhs in Malaysia moved from India years ago, some more have recent. Being part of this move, a lot of our ancestors tried to keep the culture alive. Lohri was part of that culture.

To Malaysians like me it had a different meaning. It was a great community event. I looked forward to it and in a sense gave a feeling of belonging to something special. The gurdwaras in Malaysia are religious locations but in our situation it is also a community centre where we can appreciate our Indian culture. Being a Sikh is a religion but we originate from Punjab and I believe that comes hand in hand.

The main issue I see nowadays with with my age group is, a lot of them don’t understand Punjabi, only go to gurdwara during Vasakhi and drinking [alcohol] is considered cool because that’s what Punjabis do. Again this is the Malaysian Sikhs /Punjabis. Lohri is just a small part of the culture our ancestors brought.

I completely understand that the gurdwara does not want this because if researched it stands for different believes. But I think it might stand for a different believe in India but in Malaysia, it’s a good opportunity to get the community together. We are a minority. Rather than complicating things, why don’t we accept these kind of occasions where more people want to come to the gurudwara.

In a way you are trying to keep the younger generation interested. They don’t understand paath (reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib), a lot is based on the Granthi Ji’s interpretation and I’m not saying it’s wrong but sometimes if listened properly it is a bit skewed.

We need to keep them coming and as kids this was something which we looked forward to. Majority of Klang might agree that they should remove lohri. but I know so many people who go to different gurdwaras for it.

Klang now has technically three gurdwaras. There is a divide happening. This is pretty normal in religion but there shouldn’t be in such a small community. That’s my two cents worth. Hope this does not come across as an insult but I think removing lohri is a loss to a fantastic community building/appreciating culture event.

 

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ARTICLES ON LOHRI:

Klang gurdwara AGM rejects lohree bonfire (Asia Samachar, 17 Aug 2015)

Lohree, Birthdays, Culture and New Year (Asia Samachar, 21 Jan 2015)

Kee Lohraa Aa Gya (Asia Samachar, 13 Jan 2015)

What is Lohree? – Jespal Singh Brar (Asia Samachar, 10 Feb 2015)

Artee and Sikhi – KARMINDER (Asia Samachar, 10 March 2015)

RELATED STORIES:

Klang gurdwara AGM rejects lohree bonfire (Asia Samachar, 17 Aug 2015)

Bayan Baru new gurdwara short RM1m (Asia Samachar, 13 Aug 2015)

PSU re-elects Gurjeet as president, Hardev made deputy (Asia Samachar, 6 July 2015)

Subang gurdwara building out to tender (Asia Samachar, 25 June 2015)

Dubai gurdwara aims for ISO certification (Asia Samachar, 17 June 2015)

Ipoh gurdwara gets RM200k for renovation (Asia Samachar, 12 June 2015)

Rethinking gurdwara design (Asia Samachar, 21 Apr 2015)

Johor Bahru gurdwara requests return of land (Asia Samachar, 20 Apr 2015)

Major changes in Malacca gurdwara leadership (Asia Samachar, 9 Mar 2015)

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    Thank you for ur comments Deep. Here is my reply

    Yes all the prog. listed by u are religious but what we ar addressing is our cultural programme Lohri. If Gurdwara’s can celebrate Father day, Mothers day,Teachers day, New Years day etc. Are these religious programmes that Gurdwara’s are celebrating.

    Our great great grandfathers, who have been following the time of the Guru’s n now ur parents are following, according to u they are all wrong,what ungrateful sons n daughters, who teach their parents what to do n what is wrong n what is right. Shameful.

    As for only celebrating sons birth, u ar living in the past, whether it is son or daughter’s birth, both ar celebrated during Lohree nowadays. Let me quote Guru Nanakji in Asa Di War. Lohri should be celebrated for birth ofany child regardless of gender.

    “So kio ma(n)dhaa aakheeai jith ja(n) mahi rajaan”
    (So why call woman bad, from her kings ar born

    Sikh code of conduct. Alcohol n Smoking is prohibited. I know [many members of gurdwara] committee are drinkers, some ar heavy drinkers n they ar running the Gurdwara”s. I think u all should become amritdharees first before teaching the do”s n dont”s of the Sikh religion.

    AS for smoke, forest fires ar burning in a number of countries,rubbish is been burned everywhere, what are u doing about it, Lohri fire is just a very minor contributor.

    In India Lohree is celebrated in villages, because they stay clustered together, so it is easy to get together n celebrate. In Malaysia n countries outside India, the Sikh population is scattered n the best place is the Gurdwara”s, where everybody can get together n celebrate.

    Globalisation has brought about many changes in many communities around the world. But such changes may also bring about extinction within ones culture n identity. We as the modern generation must adapt to both modern n our ancesstric culture so that it maybe preserved for the upcoming generation. We have a lot of changes in Sikhism already as a result of the so called modernisation, we now have sects, nihangs, nirankari”s, Radha Swami,niketan,akand kirtania”s etc.

    Why are Sikhs scared of fire, waheguru created our body with 5 elements, fire is one of them. If there is fire it does not mean u have to pray to the fire but u got to respect it as god created fire along with the 4 other elements in human body.

    May Waheguru bless all of u to be more wiser.

  2. We have 11 gurus – each with Janam Dihara, Joti Jot, and Gurgaddi Diwas – so at least 33 days in a year to get together. Apart from that; Vasakhi and Sahibzaade, remembrance of other shahids have individual events to be celebrated and remembered. Is that not sufficient? At least when we get together on those days, we can have a concrete historical message to be passed down to younger generation and reminder for our self.
    Why we need to celebrate a festival which is not aligned to our guru’s teachings. Glorifying an event, where our elders were only celebrating birth of sons and look down to daughters?
    If our ancestors were unaware and uneducated to follow the pack in past, do we have to carry it on with the name of ‘culture’!
    Apart from that, a bonfire is harmful to the environment. Yes, we can’t avoid fire when cooking food, but is it necessary to leave carbon imprint into atmosphere to celebrate it?

    And also mind it that this event is celebrated in individual homes back in Punjab. Not in Gudwara.

  3. lohri unites the community. I totally agree with Harpreet.

    Lohri is a Punjabi/Sikh culture that unites the community. At least a
    thousand devotees attend this cultural event every year in January, since it was banned by the present 10 year old committee for the past 3 years, it only attracted a handfull of devotees to the jodmela on 13. 1 every year. Heaven knows where these lohri sangat have gone to. I was told that there was no ardas mentioned for lohri, it was just a ordinary jordmela

    Are we here to unite the sikhs or divide them as the present 10 year old committee is doing. I hope they come to their sences soon. Western cultures like Fathers day, Mothers day n Teachers day are celebrated grandly at GSK. What message will these western cultures convey to our youths n children.

    Lohri is our Sikh culture of thanksgiving for happiness for newly weds, new borns, boys or girls etc. Parents use to bring their children n newly weds to Gurdwara on Lohri day to offer thanks giving to our creator Waheguru. Is this wrong. The same youths who were taken to Gurwaras on lohri day for their happiness are dragging their old parents to gurdwara agm to vote for no lohri. What a sad day for their old folks. some could not even walk properly.

    Last but least to say Lohri has to be celebrated with fire ceremony otherwise it has no significant.

    I hope that every Gurdwara will celebrate Lohri, the gurdwara committee will have to educate the sangat not to pray to the fire but respect it as it is one of the five elements that make up the body. If we don’t have fire in Gurdwara,how are we going to cook langgar.

    Thanks for noting n share with others before it becomes extinct.

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