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Sundari Mundari’ing Away to Glory at the Annual Lohri Celebrations By Punjabi Culture Club

PCC’s executive committee. From left: Balwant Khurana- Past President, Krishan Bansal- Vice President, Ravi Goel- Treasurer, Neelu Sharma- Secretary.

PCC’s executive committee. From left: Balwant Khurana- Past President, Krishan Bansal- Vice President, Ravi Goel- Treasurer, Neelu Sharma- Secretary.

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: Bonfire celebrations, gur rewri, puffed rice, peanuts, popcorns, and some bhangra & gidda – all of these are significant components associated with one of India’s favorite festivals- Lohri. This popular festival marks the end of winter and serves as a traditional welcome of longer days, the beginning of summer, with the sun’s journey towards the northern hemisphere. Lohri is also a way to spread the joy of seeing the sparkling pearls of rabi crops.

The unique regional celebration of lohri is quite diverse according to the geographical regions of India. The Punjabi Culture Club of Houston (PCC) held its annual lohri event on Saturday, January 20, at Nirvana Restaurant. To ensure that the crowd of the second generation Indians is high, the event was kept free for anyone below the age of 45 years.

Neelu Sharma (left), who has successfully emceed many PCC events over the last three decades, along with her daughter and co-emcee, Dr. Namrata Sharma Goel.

Neelu Sharma (left), who has successfully emceed many PCC events over the last three decades, along with her daughter and co-emcee, Dr. Namrata Sharma Goel.

The Punjabi Culture Club of Houston has been very dynamic and full of vim and vigor when it comes to organizing these events. Members of the PCC executive committee are: Bal Sareen- President, Krishan Bansal- Vice President, Ravi Goel- Treasurer, Neelu Sharma- Secretary, Balwant Khurana- Past President. The lohri event started at 6.30 pm, as planned.

As the guests walked in, dressed in their impressive attire, they were greeted with some mouth-watering appetizers, and some traditional Punjabi folk songs played by DJ Rishabh. Their greetings of Happy Lohri coupled with their chitchatting glory, were soon distracted to the dhol beats, having the guests nudge their shoulders and move their feet.

Everyone gathered outside for the bonfire.

Everyone gathered outside for the bonfire.

The Funjabi heat was on and people seemed to be getting into high spirits. The crowd which was enthusiastic and pepped up by now was welcomed by Neelu Sharma, a long time Houstonian and the owner of Ashneel Travel N’ Tours. Neelu, who has successfully emceed many PCC events over the last three decades, shared with everyone the importance of lohri and makar sankranti, which would follow the next day.

 

After this warm welcome, her daughter and co-emcee, Dr. Namrata Sharma Goel, who holds a double board certification in Nephrology & Internal Medicine, introduced the Executive committee. Dr.Namrata enjoys emceeing as much as her mother, and she has been supportive in organizing various events and making them successful. Her quick introduction was followed by Krishan Bansal addressing the guests.

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PCC member Rajinder Soni entertaining everyone with some old Bollywood classics like halke halke chalo sanware, he has helped organizing various PCC events.

 

He mentioned, “One of the major goals of the executive committee this year is to put in our best efforts to attract young adults, so that they participate actively in PCC activities. We all recognize that active participation of young adults is a must to pass on our culture and traditions to our future generation”. He then urged the young adults to come forward and help organize the next baisakhi event.

Finally, it was time for the traditional bonfire to be lit. This was a part, which everyone was so looking forward to. People gathered around the rising flames, singing peppy Punjabi folk songs. The environment was electrified with the popular ‘Sundari Mundri Ho’ (popular Punjabi song sung during lohri), as people orbited around the flames offering popcorn and gajak. The chant didn’t just fade in there, as people continued rejoicing by singing Punjabi lok sangeet until dinner was served.

PCC-in-3

The much-anticipated traditional meal course truly lit up everyone’s spirits even further. The scrumptious spread catered by Nirvana also consisted of the traditional makki di roti and sarson da saag. The delectable meal further infused energy into the event and got people dancing till the wee hours, to some peppy numbers played by the DJ. The lohri event was celebrated with much pomp and fervor, and helped people take a break from their busy lives and reunite with their friends and family.

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