Lohiri Celebration: Girls and Boys?

Recently I attended a Lohiri Party celebrating the birth of a baby boy. Complete with bhangra, ghidda, food in the garage, a fire in the backyard, peanuts, rarroya, ladies in the family room, and the Babujis in the living room. While there I had a conversation with the new bride in the family about Lohiri. Our family friends son had married a Latina and this was her first Lohiri. She told me that the dancing had started hours ago and that her husbands female relatives had pushed her into the middle of the ghidda circle because then ju can have a boy too if ju dance in the middle during Lohiri, while eyeing her stomach. They just got married a few months ago! She then went on to say that she asked her husband if they could have a Lohiri if they have a baby girl in the future he said “I dont know we usually only celebrate it for boys. She seemed to have this look of disappointment in her eyes, while smiling when she said well we are going to change that one. I responded that they should definitely celebrate Lohiri if they have a baby girl and give out laados too! She said, Yeap I am changing this tradition! I began to wonder if there were similar conversations taking place at other Lohiri parties.

Did anyone recently attend a Lohiri Party for a baby girl or a girls marriage this year? What are your thoughts after attending any type of Lohiri celebration this season!


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48 Responses to “Lohiri Celebration: Girls and Boys?”

  1. Bubblu says:

    Trinjan Punjabi Folk Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada celebrates a Kuri Mundeyan Di Lohri, "Girls & Boys Lohri" each year.

    More info at trinjan.org

  2. Bubblu says:

    Trinjan Punjabi Folk Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada celebrates a Kuri Mundeyan Di Lohri, “Girls & Boys Lohri” each year.

    More info at trinjan.org

  3. Camille says:

    The last two Lohris I attended were for a baby girl and a baby boy, respectively (the former was in India, the latter in the U.S.). It was kind of a "first baby" celebration, which I thought was nice :) I actually never grew up with a strong Lohri-attending family, so I never really understood what it was all about (or why it was considered, by some, objectionable) until I was much older. I have a feeling interpretations of who a Lohri is "for" vary by the couple and family, no?

  4. Camille says:

    The last two Lohris I attended were for a baby girl and a baby boy, respectively (the former was in India, the latter in the U.S.). It was kind of a “first baby” celebration, which I thought was nice :) I actually never grew up with a strong Lohri-attending family, so I never really understood what it was all about (or why it was considered, by some, objectionable) until I was much older. I have a feeling interpretations of who a Lohri is “for” vary by the couple and family, no?

  5. Singh says:

    I have not had a chance to attend any Lohri celebrations this year, but I had an interesting convo with some friends who were staunch rivals of celebrating lohri for their newlyborn nephew when nothing of the sort had been celebrated for their older nieces. Ultimately, they decided to get together with family and do Sukhmani Sahib to celebrate the arrival of a baby and said that this is how they would continue to celebrate births (with peanuts and ryorian afterwards of course). Also, there was a clause in their verbal agreement that required the family to retroactively hold gatherings for the two nieces. So – they decided on equality.

  6. Singh says:

    I have not had a chance to attend any Lohri celebrations this year, but I had an interesting convo with some friends who were staunch rivals of celebrating lohri for their newlyborn nephew when nothing of the sort had been celebrated for their older nieces. Ultimately, they decided to get together with family and do Sukhmani Sahib to celebrate the arrival of a baby and said that this is how they would continue to celebrate births (with peanuts and ryorian afterwards of course). Also, there was a clause in their verbal agreement that required the family to retroactively hold gatherings for the two nieces. So – they decided on equality.

  7. P.Singh says:

    I have not attended many lohri celebrations either; however, I do recall a lohri celebration held for my brother and myself in India.

    This was our first trip to India, and the extended family decided it was high time to hold a lohri celebration for us. My parents had no objections.

    However, when the party started, my parents, especially my father, made it abundantly clear the lohri was for my sister as well and he made sure she was a part of the festivities. This was some 20 years ago or so. On a similar note, when my sister was born, father insisted on distributing ladoos to everyone, and held a huge party to celebrate her birth – this was over 2 decades ago.

    Maybe pops was a little ahead of his time, but I am hopeful he wasn't the only one. Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but it seems as if the trend, in N.America at least, is shifting a little more towards boy-and-girl lohri parties.

  8. P.Singh says:

    I have not attended many lohri celebrations either; however, I do recall a lohri celebration held for my brother and myself in India.

    This was our first trip to India, and the extended family decided it was high time to hold a lohri celebration for us. My parents had no objections.

    However, when the party started, my parents, especially my father, made it abundantly clear the lohri was for my sister as well and he made sure she was a part of the festivities. This was some 20 years ago or so. On a similar note, when my sister was born, father insisted on distributing ladoos to everyone, and held a huge party to celebrate her birth – this was over 2 decades ago.

    Maybe pops was a little ahead of his time, but I am hopeful he wasn’t the only one. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but it seems as if the trend, in N.America at least, is shifting a little more towards boy-and-girl lohri parties.

  9. Nicole says:

    I recently spoke to my sister in-law in India and she actually told me that people celebrate Lohri for girls out there all the time. I was really excited to hear this news.

    Unfortunately, I did not here of any Lohri celebrations done for girls here in California. In fact, my cousin recently had a daughter and refused to celebrate for her. But of course, she did so when she had her son two years ago. When I mentioned to my own mom that I will celebrate Lohri for my daughter, she just became angry and told me not to say that in front of other people.

    I think changing the Lohri tradition is completely up to us, the new generation. If we brake these traditions, it will seem odd to future generations that Lohri was celebrated just for boys. Also, this will encourage the people who do not celebrate Lohri for girls to do so because of course no Punjabi likes to be the outcast. So lets reverse this whole thinking on those that don't appreciate the birth of little girls.

  10. Nicole says:

    I recently spoke to my sister in-law in India and she actually told me that people celebrate Lohri for girls out there all the time. I was really excited to hear this news.

    Unfortunately, I did not here of any Lohri celebrations done for girls here in California. In fact, my cousin recently had a daughter and refused to celebrate for her. But of course, she did so when she had her son two years ago. When I mentioned to my own mom that I will celebrate Lohri for my daughter, she just became angry and told me not to say that in front of other people.

    I think changing the Lohri tradition is completely up to us, the new generation. If we brake these traditions, it will seem odd to future generations that Lohri was celebrated just for boys. Also, this will encourage the people who do not celebrate Lohri for girls to do so because of course no Punjabi likes to be the outcast. So lets reverse this whole thinking on those that don’t appreciate the birth of little girls.

  11. palo singh says:

    i attented lots of lohris all where for boys

    i to celebrated for my son and not for my daughter i always thought lohri was only for boys because its was so we where taught and bought up to believe this, its got that people now celebrate for daughters too

    i too thing that boys and girls should be treated same but like everything change takes time its happening slowly, its like everything you will find people that will not agree with the change…

  12. palo singh says:

    i attented lots of lohris all where for boys

    i to celebrated for my son and not for my daughter i always thought lohri was only for boys because its was so we where taught and bought up to believe this, its got that people now celebrate for daughters too

    i too thing that boys and girls should be treated same but like everything change takes time its happening slowly, its like everything you will find people that will not agree with the change…

  13. P.Singh says:

    …so much for my optimism….a Punjabi guy who lives about 5 mins away from me, killed his baby girl today.

    As per desi news, it appears he had two daughters already, but wanted a son. When his wife was pregnant for the third time, he pushed her to get an abortion, but she refused, and a baby girl was born. From there, the guy became depressed, and apparently quit his job.

    Today, when the mother was gone to drop her two older daughters at school, the guy stabbed his baby girl to death.

    I'm at a loss for words – disgust, anger, sadness, none of these seem sufficient.

  14. P.Singh says:

    …so much for my optimism….a Punjabi guy who lives about 5 mins away from me, killed his baby girl today.

    As per desi news, it appears he had two daughters already, but wanted a son. When his wife was pregnant for the third time, he pushed her to get an abortion, but she refused, and a baby girl was born. From there, the guy became depressed, and apparently quit his job.

    Today, when the mother was gone to drop her two older daughters at school, the guy stabbed his baby girl to death.

    I’m at a loss for words – disgust, anger, sadness, none of these seem sufficient.

  15. Jodha says:

    When will this stop? seriously.

    Link to the story P.Singh mentioned.

    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.htm

  16. Jodha says:

    When will this stop? seriously.
    Link to the story P.Singh mentioned.
    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html

  17. Reema says:

    P. Singh, are there any groups in Vancouver that can/will respond to this? Do you think the neighborhood will be able to provide support for the mother and daughters? Do they have other family nearby?

  18. Reema says:

    P. Singh, are there any groups in Vancouver that can/will respond to this? Do you think the neighborhood will be able to provide support for the mother and daughters? Do they have other family nearby?

  19. Sifar says:

    I had a baby girl here in US couple of yrs ago, but my parents in India celebrated her first Lohri (we were not able to go). We don't believe in too much pomp and show, but they invited a few close relatives, had dinner, celebrated Lohri. No music DJs or big party. Mobile Dhol wala came in, people danced to the Dhol…. Thats exactly we would have celebrated if we had a boy.

  20. Sifar says:

    I had a baby girl here in US couple of yrs ago, but my parents in India celebrated her first Lohri (we were not able to go). We don’t believe in too much pomp and show, but they invited a few close relatives, had dinner, celebrated Lohri. No music DJs or big party. Mobile Dhol wala came in, people danced to the Dhol…. Thats exactly we would have celebrated if we had a boy.

  21. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I am not aware if there is any family close-at-hand, but would be surprised if there wasn't some family, given the large Punjabi community in nearby cities.

    I'm sure indo-canadian women's rights groups will say their piece to the media, and people will make speeches in gurdwaras, and perhaps there will be town-hall type meetings, where politicians and 'community-leaders' will gather to give yet more speeches (and take advantage of photo ops) – the same kind of response that took place 1 or 2 years ago, after a string of domestic violence related incidents made headlines in B.C.

    Given that such little concrete work was done after the then 'hot issue' of domestic violence cooled down, I have little confidence our community will take any steps after the current 'hot issue' of this murdered baby girl cools down.

    After all, its just one more murdered baby girl to add to all the others, right? Although, I guess killing baby girls via prenatal sex selection is probably the better way of going about things – less problems with the cops that way.

  22. P.Singh says:

    Reema,

    I am not aware if there is any family close-at-hand, but would be surprised if there wasn’t some family, given the large Punjabi community in nearby cities.

    I’m sure indo-canadian women’s rights groups will say their piece to the media, and people will make speeches in gurdwaras, and perhaps there will be town-hall type meetings, where politicians and ‘community-leaders’ will gather to give yet more speeches (and take advantage of photo ops) – the same kind of response that took place 1 or 2 years ago, after a string of domestic violence related incidents made headlines in B.C.

    Given that such little concrete work was done after the then ‘hot issue’ of domestic violence cooled down, I have little confidence our community will take any steps after the current ‘hot issue’ of this murdered baby girl cools down.

    After all, its just one more murdered baby girl to add to all the others, right? Although, I guess killing baby girls via prenatal sex selection is probably the better way of going about things – less problems with the cops that way.

  23. Mewa Singh says:

    Reema and Puneet,

    I am the first to complain of the lack of community response that extends beyond photo ops and speeches. So let us come up with some 'concrete' suggestions that can be implemented. What would we do in BC? What should we be doing in our own communities? What are some 'concrete' plans and ideas?

  24. Mewa Singh says:

    Reema and Puneet,

    I am the first to complain of the lack of community response that extends beyond photo ops and speeches. So let us come up with some ‘concrete’ suggestions that can be implemented. What would we do in BC? What should we be doing in our own communities? What are some ‘concrete’ plans and ideas?

  25. Nicole says:

    I am just left speech-less about P.Singh's story. How could any human being stab a poor innocent child? I hope those people face the hell they have choosen for themselves.

  26. Nicole says:

    I am just left speech-less about P.Singh’s story. How could any human being stab a poor innocent child? I hope those people face the hell they have choosen for themselves.

  27. Reema says:

    So let us come up with some ‘concrete’ suggestions that can be implemented. What would we do in BC? What should we be doing in our own communities? What are some ‘concrete’ plans and ideas?

    tough question. i would prefer to have a chorus of people responding with lots of ideas instead of just one or two people throwing out thoughts, but since i think this is an important question, i'll try to respond…

    in the immediate, short term, i think 2 things are important.

    1- everyday needs might be a concern(food, travel, shelter, getting to school, day to day necessities- things that the family may have relied on their husband/father for)

    2- i would think the kids and mother/wife would really benefit from therapy. if they're unwilling, mental and emotional support of friends and family can also be significant.

    in the long term, there needs to be a strong, public, long-term condemnation of whatever values/idealogy motivated the father (if it was in any part son-preference). though each individual is responsible for his/her own actions, we aren't formed and we don't act in a vacuum. to some extent (how minor or major this is, is debatable), communities are responsible for what happens to the individuals they are made of.

    i'm sure there are a lot of great ideas i left out…

  28. Reema says:

    So let us come up with some concrete suggestions that can be implemented. What would we do in BC? What should we be doing in our own communities? What are some concrete plans and ideas?

    tough question. i would prefer to have a chorus of people responding with lots of ideas instead of just one or two people throwing out thoughts, but since i think this is an important question, i’ll try to respond…

    in the immediate, short term, i think 2 things are important.

    1- everyday needs might be a concern(food, travel, shelter, getting to school, day to day necessities- things that the family may have relied on their husband/father for)

    2- i would think the kids and mother/wife would really benefit from therapy. if they’re unwilling, mental and emotional support of friends and family can also be significant.

    in the long term, there needs to be a strong, public, long-term condemnation of whatever values/idealogy motivated the father (if it was in any part son-preference). though each individual is responsible for his/her own actions, we aren’t formed and we don’t act in a vacuum. to some extent (how minor or major this is, is debatable), communities are responsible for what happens to the individuals they are made of.

    i’m sure there are a lot of great ideas i left out…

  29. sukhi says:

    I just got back from India last week and was lucky to be there for Lorhi. Maybe it was just the place I was in or maybe India is realising what it should, but I saw a few Lorhi celebrations for baby girls. And I was luck to be at one for my niece. Its really about time everyone stops this boy/girl nonsence and see be on the physical anatomy and learn that eveyones really the same.

    I was in India for a month and there are way too many men. Sure celebrate them but lets also celebrate what got the men into the world. Suchi.

    I'm 19 and I and my sisters had our first Lorhi 5 years ago. Even though it was a bit too late for a Lorhi, atleast everyone in my family is moving fwrd and not with the "old" mantality. With that they sort of set an example of some sort for others.

    And killing your baby over being a girl is the MOST shittiest thing I have ever heard but its how the world turns. And I'd rather have it stop turning than have this happen

  30. sukhi says:

    I just got back from India last week and was lucky to be there for Lorhi. Maybe it was just the place I was in or maybe India is realising what it should, but I saw a few Lorhi celebrations for baby girls. And I was luck to be at one for my niece. Its really about time everyone stops this boy/girl nonsence and see be on the physical anatomy and learn that eveyones really the same.
    I was in India for a month and there are way too many men. Sure celebrate them but lets also celebrate what got the men into the world. Suchi.
    I’m 19 and I and my sisters had our first Lorhi 5 years ago. Even though it was a bit too late for a Lorhi, atleast everyone in my family is moving fwrd and not with the “old” mantality. With that they sort of set an example of some sort for others.
    And killing your baby over being a girl is the MOST shittiest thing I have ever heard but its how the world turns. And I’d rather have it stop turning than have this happen

  31. Nims says:

    I'm from Toronto, Canada and I attended a lohri party for a girl for the first time this year. The parents, second-generation, Canadian-born, made it a point to celebrate a lohri for their a daughter and give her the same celebration they did for their first-born son. They did lovely speeches in the beginning of the party both in english and punjabi, discussing the significance of lohri and why it's important that if you celebrate it, to do it equally for both sons and daughters. In my circle of family and friends, having lohri celebrations for sons and daughters equally is becoming normal and i'm grateful for that. What is also great, is that second-generation parents are making it more of a point to really provide significance and meaning behind the event, and make it more than just a party.

  32. Nims says:

    I’m from Toronto, Canada and I attended a lohri party for a girl for the first time this year. The parents, second-generation, Canadian-born, made it a point to celebrate a lohri for their a daughter and give her the same celebration they did for their first-born son. They did lovely speeches in the beginning of the party both in english and punjabi, discussing the significance of lohri and why it’s important that if you celebrate it, to do it equally for both sons and daughters. In my circle of family and friends, having lohri celebrations for sons and daughters equally is becoming normal and i’m grateful for that. What is also great, is that second-generation parents are making it more of a point to really provide significance and meaning behind the event, and make it more than just a party.

  33. jaggi says:

    oops I meant to say sexist tradition-not religion. Unfortunately the culture is still strongly sexist. Thankfully my family does not celebrate this tradition-however being married to one that does-it just makes me feel disgusted. I can't see why if my grandparents were so liberal in their day and chose not to celebrate this tradition that second generation Indians still choose to do so, and think that they are 'modernizing' it by including girls-as if they are doing girls a favor. Just abolish the whole thing into nonexistence. I hope my furture children will not know one thing about this tradition at all.

    • kim says:

      Thank you- this is the smartest thing i have heard. Its amazing how many people say oh we do lohri for girls like they doing us a favour. I am having my first child next week, and its a boy but i will not be celebrating lohri for him or when i have a daughter. Its needs to be abolished and i hope my kids never learn what it is!!!

  34. jaggi says:

    Why not abolish this whole lorhi business. It stems from celebration of birth/marriage of a male. My grandparents never celebrated this tradition for their sons, and that was back in their day. I can't believe people still celebrate this sexist religion and think they are 'changin' it by now celebrating it for girls as well. It was not 'intended' for girls, and it should be abolished all together. If you want to celebrate-celebrate birthdays.

  35. jaggi says:

    Why not abolish this whole lorhi business. It stems from celebration of birth/marriage of a male. My grandparents never celebrated this tradition for their sons, and that was back in their day. I can’t believe people still celebrate this sexist religion and think they are ‘changin’ it by now celebrating it for girls as well. It was not ‘intended’ for girls, and it should be abolished all together. If you want to celebrate-celebrate birthdays.

  36. jaggi says:

    oops I meant to say sexist tradition-not religion. Unfortunately the culture is still strongly sexist. Thankfully my family does not celebrate this tradition-however being married to one that does-it just makes me feel disgusted. I can’t see why if my grandparents were so liberal in their day and chose not to celebrate this tradition that second generation Indians still choose to do so, and think that they are ‘modernizing’ it by including girls-as if they are doing girls a favor. Just abolish the whole thing into nonexistence. I hope my furture children will not know one thing about this tradition at all.

  37. Mewa Singh says:

    I understand your point Jaggi, but I think I have a contrary to both positions. I personally don't believe the celebration should be abolished nor just celebrated for women as a tag-on…In fact the tradition was 're-interpreted' and given fresh vitality by Sikh history.

    Instead of Lohri, there was a replacement with Maghi and the celebration of the womenly heroic valour (or 'sheroism' as Jodha aptly called it) as well as a story of redemption and forgiveness with the Chali Muktay.

    That is something definitely worth celebrating!

  38. Mewa Singh says:

    I understand your point Jaggi, but I think I have a contrary to both positions. I personally don’t believe the celebration should be abolished nor just celebrated for women as a tag-on…In fact the tradition was ‘re-interpreted’ and given fresh vitality by Sikh history.

    Instead of Lohri, there was a replacement with Maghi and the celebration of the womenly heroic valour (or ‘sheroism’ as Jodha aptly called it) as well as a story of redemption and forgiveness with the Chali Muktay.

    That is something definitely worth celebrating!

  39. Joyce says:

    I'm off to attend my first Lorhi, as white guests of a Sikh family. The family is rather traditional. I am very much not! I have a difficult time with traditions that favour boys over girls… the Sikh host for this Lorhi tells us that traditions take time to change… however, it doesn't have to. A couple can simply say, "we equally value boys and girls, and choose to celebrate for the birth of an amazing human being".

    My husband and I overruled many of many anglo-saxon traditions with our marriage, creating it as an equal partnership. My husband and I each keep our own last names, and our children will have a hyphenated name. This signifies, to us, that we are equal partners, and that our children belong to us both equally. This was to the slight dismay of both our families. Too bad.

    I think that in all cultural traditions, we need to stand up for core values – that human beings have amazing worth and potential. Not just boys.

  40. Joyce says:

    I’m off to attend my first Lorhi, as white guests of a Sikh family. The family is rather traditional. I am very much not! I have a difficult time with traditions that favour boys over girls… the Sikh host for this Lorhi tells us that traditions take time to change… however, it doesn’t have to. A couple can simply say, “we equally value boys and girls, and choose to celebrate for the birth of an amazing human being”.

    My husband and I overruled many of many anglo-saxon traditions with our marriage, creating it as an equal partnership. My husband and I each keep our own last names, and our children will have a hyphenated name. This signifies, to us, that we are equal partners, and that our children belong to us both equally. This was to the slight dismay of both our families. Too bad.

    I think that in all cultural traditions, we need to stand up for core values – that human beings have amazing worth and potential. Not just boys.

  41. ABC says:

    I just recently went to a Lohri Party for a baby girl. It was so much fun. There should not be any traditions that are strictly for men. This is just another way of controlling women, and it creates inequality amongst men and women. This is not how our Guru wanted women to be treated. As far as he was concerned men and women are equal. So throw parties for your girls hand out ludoos when they are born…. I know many people who celebrate festivities that are said to be for "boys' only. treat your girls as you would your boys ….If not Better. ;0)

  42. ABC says:

    I just recently went to a Lohri Party for a baby girl. It was so much fun. There should not be any traditions that are strictly for men. This is just another way of controlling women, and it creates inequality amongst men and women. This is not how our Guru wanted women to be treated. As far as he was concerned men and women are equal. So throw parties for your girls hand out ludoos when they are born…. I know many people who celebrate festivities that are said to be for “boys’ only. treat your girls as you would your boys ….If not Better. ;0)

  43. Jerry Cash says:

    Children are a gift from God, girl babies too! The world is getting smaller and things will change!

  44. Jerry Cash says:

    Children are a gift from God, girl babies too! The world is getting smaller and things will change!

  45. Lalita Janke says:

    A friend invited me to celebrate Lohiri. I had never heard the word and did not want to seem ignorate.__( I was born in Goa) I googled the term and read all the comments…and feel sad that we have to remind people to celebrate life of both sexes. Today brains are superior to brawn and parents may end up receiving more support from their daughters than their sons. Wisen up ladies . Socal change, sometimes disguised as religious dogma is usually initiated and supported by forward thinking women. Let us women, take a stand for equality , when ever we can . Start it from your heart and spread it from your inner circle to the community at large. With technology and a little detirmination we will make a difference. If the Punjabi women, who have the reputation of being strong, take a determined stand on this issue, the custom will change and we will rejoice and bless all babies. We will see it spreading fast and change will occure within this new decade.

  46. Lalita Janke says:

    A friend invited me to celebrate Lohiri. I had never heard the word and did not want to seem ignorate.__( I was born in Goa) I googled the term and read all the comments…and feel sad that we have to remind people to celebrate life of both sexes. Today brains are superior to brawn and parents may end up receiving more support from their daughters than their sons. Wisen up ladies . Socal change, sometimes disguised as religious dogma is usually initiated and supported by forward thinking women. Let us women, take a stand for equality , when ever we can . Start it from your heart and spread it from your inner circle to the community at large. With technology and a little detirmination we will make a difference. If the Punjabi women, who have the reputation of being strong, take a determined stand on this issue, the custom will change and we will rejoice and bless all babies. We will see it spreading fast and change will occure within this new decade.

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