From left: Amrit Ghuman with Anoop Ghuman

From left: Amrit Ghuman with Anoop Ghuman

Celebrating all new beginnings

Lohri festival in Surrey stresses the value of both boys and girls.

When she and her husband welcomed their son into the world three years ago, Amy Ghuman Sara’s friends and family were thrilled, extending love and best wishes to the new parents.

Others also offered their praise, but Ghuman Sara got the feeling some were offering congratulations, not just because they’d had a baby, but because the infant in her arms was a boy and not a girl.

It’s an attitude that persists in many cultures, and one the Surrey woman has been battling for years.

It’s been nine years since she and other members of Trinjan – the Punjabi Folk helped organize the first Kuri Mundey Di Lohri in Surrey. While Lohri has traditionally been for Indian families to celebrate a male birth, the Surrey event has always focused on the birth of all children born in the last year – boys and girls.

When Kuri Mundey Di Lohri first began, most of the organizers were barely in their 20s and “just kids” themselves. Now, many of them are having their own children.

“We can see the perspective of both sides now,” says Ghuman Sara. “We know how it feels. It’s given me a stronger edge that if I have a boy and my other friends have girls, there’s no real difference.”

Still, she’s faced criticism from the community for messing with long-held traditions.

“What’s wrong with modifying our traditions?” she asks. “We’re just adding the girls to Lohri, instead of just having boys. It’s a life celebration, not a specific gender.”

While culturally, much progress has been made, Ghuman Sara admits that socially, there’s still plenty of work to be done. She points to last month’s gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi as an example.

“That really puts things into perspective again. Are we really there? It seems like when we take one step ahead, 10 steps back are taken.”

While helping educate about gender equality, Kuri Mundey Di Lohri is intended to be mostly about having fun. The evening begins at 4 p.m. with a bonfire outside where families can perform their personal rituals, such as throwing peanuts on the fire. The celebration inside begins at 5 p.m. when all newborns and newlyweds will be introduced and receive a gift. Dinner, dancing and entertainment will follow.

The event takes place Jan. 13 at Dhaliwal Banquet Hall, #206-8166 128 St. Tickets are $20, with proceeds benefiting Pratham, an organization that supports literacy for disadvantaged children in India. Call 604-612-4586 for tickets or more information.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader