By Gaganjeet Singh Jan. 13, 2018
Don’t be fooled by the wannabe Lohri parties all across the city. To arrive at the correct Lohri destination, take a U-turn from “patola”, follow “gabroo” to stay on the fastest route until you take a right turn from “raula”, and finally reach “hadippa”.
It’s the time to Lohri. You’ve received enough reminders from WhatsApp groups that have been bombarding you with invites for “Traditional Nights with Twists” and culturally sensitive special offers that nod at your Punjabi roots, like “Order a 60 ml large and get a 90 ml Patiala”. Or through a childhood friend who has tagged every person you went to school with in a collage of passport-sized photos: “Happy Lohri to all my Skul de Yarz!!!”
If these folks have failed you, your music apps won’t. Repeated notifications from Guru Randhawa and his lookalikes will not fail to remind you that January 13 is a momentous occasion.
But this is Lohri for wannabes. This is as close to Lohri as the best butter chicken in Bombay is to actual butter chicken. To arrive at the correct Lohri destination you need to take a U-turn from “patola”, then follow “gabroo” to stay on the fastest route until you take a right turn from “raula” and finally reach “hadippa”. Welcome to the Lohri party, bruuaaah.
Now that you have arrived, you can’t possibly miss the bonfire. Honk as much as you can until one of them leaves the circle and starts walking toward you. This is the first Lohri tradition you must stick to, else you won’t find parking. Now leave the guitar in the trunk unless you know the chords to “Aaha Chiknak Chiknak Chiknak” and other Daler songs. (Legend has it that while Tansen was learning how to light a lamp in Akbar’s Tomorrowland, Daler was lighting bonfires like a pro.)
Lohri is celebrated just like your usual bonfire party, so be a sport and don’t forget to take part in fun games like, “Who wants to be an NRI?”, “Wheel… of… Lowrider!!” and the most popular one of arranged marriage: “Let’s Make a Deal!!” The oldest of the lot, Sardar Gurwhisky Singh is the one sitting closest to the bonfire but constantly complaining about global warming and how winter is not the same anymore. The dholwala has to keep a keen eye on him because whenever he gets up, the dhol must stop and someone has to start singing “Vaari varsi”. Every punchline Gurwhisky Singh throws, the dhol has to go “Tana na na”.
Next to him sits Beeji, the maternal head of the family. No one knows her real name or her birthday. She is always knitting a sweater which some unfortunate sod is forced to wear at the next family wedding. At every Lohri party, the chachis and buas are crucial. Who else will make sure that the “matthi” and “chaah” keep coming so that Beeji doesn’t fall asleep? If she’s awake, do your “pairi pauna”, after which, depending on whether she tells you to “Hunn nacho” or “Khaao” you will be directed to the respective areas.
When the Lohri party is at its peak, police intervention is a must. Because even with a bonfire, it’s not going to be a Lit AF Lohri party without the cops.
If it’s the latter, you will find yourself in the company of the sweetest person of the family in Makkhi Chachi or Mrs Makhan Singh. She is the one point contact for food and drink. Unsaid rules of Punjabi buffet like BYOB – Bring Your Own Baalushahi or MDMA – Mainu Do Mocktail Aur are otherwise hard learnt. The flipside is that she has an annoying little daughter who starts crying whenever the local DJ stops playing “Lean On Dhol Mix”.
When the Lohri party is at its peak, police intervention is a must. Because even with a bonfire, it’s not going to be a Lit AF Lohri party without the cops. They are obviously there because of some unreasonable complaints from a grumpy neighbour: “The music is too loud and my Bittu has an exam tomorrow.” Or it’s probably too late and people are vomiting on their cars or throwing bottles on their terrace. What these unfortunate neighbours forget, is that the thaanedar is anyway invited and will leave only after a proper four-course meal and two bottles of “for sale in Punjab only”.
Now after the police leaves, expect a fight to break out anytime soon, so if you haven’t already hit on someone or invited a hot cousin for a session of “Rewadiyan and Chill”, hold your guns now. The raging Punjabi munde with Instagram handles like @PaggTePegg and @Pb08Wale can go from “Oye Paji” to “Oye Bhen****” faster than their bullet can go from 0 to 60.
After the raula is over and the strains of “Sundar mundariye ho!” begin to die down and the fire fades into the embers, it’s best to take the party inside. After his umpteenth peg Sardar Makhan Singh will begin talking to his NRI brother about how this financial year was a total disaster and how he is planning to take big risks next year if only his NRI brother could help him with his Bitcoins. Mrs Makhan Singh knows that NRI Singh loves to sing. So Antakashari is announced and she divides the lot into Deewane, Mastane, Parwane, and Anjaane, which ends only when Mr Makhan Singh proposes to Mrs Makhan Singh for the 89th time.
You know it is time to leave the premises when the elders begin referring to everyone only as animals, like, “Oye kabootari”, “Oye khotte”, “Oye mera sher.” You’ll probably want to stay for one more song and have another go at sarson da saag, but let me remind you of the wise words of Sardar Gurwhisky Singh: Sarson, winter, and women are just not the same anymore.
Truckfull of wishes. Rabb mehr kare. Happy Lohri, and copy to all.
Gaganjeet Singh is an Engineer in search of a plan, a writer in search of a story, and a human in search of the meaning of life and the perfect paratha - whichever comes first.