Sunday, January 30, 2011
The First Lohri
On the first Lohri of the recently wedded bride or a new born child, people give offerings of dry fruits, revri (a kind of candy made of sugar and sesame seeds), roasted peanuts, Sesame Ladoo and other foods to the fire, as well as sharing them with their family and friends gathered around the fire. They perform the "Bhangra" dance, in groups around the fire. The dancing and singing continues well into the night. The Bhangra dance has rhythmic movements of the feet, shoulder and body, with outstretched hands and a lot of clapping by women partners. Food eaten, is generally of vegetarian and traditionally, no alcohol is supposed to be consumed.
The First Lohri of a Bride
The first Lohri of a bride is considered very important. It is celebrated with increased fervor and on a larger scale. The family of the newly wedded wife and husband gather around the fire wearing their best, often new clothes, decorated with beautiful Punjabi embroidery in gold and silk threads with mirror work. The newly married woman wears new bangles, applies henna or "mehndi" on their hands and puts a colorful bindi, a decorative spot on their foreheads. The husband also wears new clothes and colorful turbans. The new clothes and jewelery is given to her by her new in-laws. She wears bangles almost up to her elbows. The mother-in-law presents heavy garments and jewelry to he new bride. The bride remains in her in-law's house where a grand feast is arranged and all the sons and daughters, with their spouses and children and all of their close friends and neighbors are invited. In the early evening, when all have arrived, the new bride is dressed in her best salwar suit or phaphra and is made to sit, along with her husband, in a central place where the father and mother in law perform the presentation of clothes and jewelry. The close relatives and friends also join in and present clothes or cash to the new bride.
The First Lohri for a Newborn
The first Lohri of a new born is also a special occasion, in which all friends and family join to celebrate. it is preformed in the later part of the evening. Invitations can be sent for this function, depending on how the family wants to celebrate this occasion. The event is observed at the home of the child's parents, in the presence of close relatives, friends and well wishers. All the guests usually bring gifts for the baby and the new mother. The child's grandparent's give gifts to the child's paternal relatives also.
On the first Lohri of a new born baby, the mother is attired in heavy clothes and is wearing a lot of jewelery with mehndi on her hands and feet and sits with the baby in her lap. The family does the presentations. The mother and father-in-law usually gives a large quantity of presents in the form of clothes and cash and others in the immediate family do so also. The maternal grandparents also send gifts of clothes, sweets, rayveri, peanuts, popcorn's and fruits.
The Touaregs, nomads from the south of the Sahara, have a long standing tradition of coming toether for annual meeting called Takoubelt in the Kidal region or Temakannit in the Timbuktu region. These meetings allowed them to reconnect with each other (after the nomadic season), have fun, resolve conflicts between individuals or groups and to exchange ideas about the challenges that they were facing at the moment. These encounters are what "Le Festival au Desert" is built upon. "Le Festival au Desert", in its present form was born in January 2001, at the dawn of the third millennium, following a meeting between Touaregs from Mail and European musicians.
The organization of the Festival, wit its focus on combining modernity and tradition, is driven by a strong desire to open its doors to the outside world, while still preserving the cultures and traditions of the desert; for some, this signifies being listened to and then recognized, for others it is a way to discover the desert through the inhabitants' values of hospitality and tolerance.
In the beginning, the Festival was nomadic in its nature: the first Festival took place in Tin Essako in 2001 and then it moved to Tessalit in 2002 in the Kidal region (North-East Mali). However, after the 3rd year in 2003, when the Festival was held in Essakane close to Timbuktu, the organizers had to start envisioning a fixed location for the Festival in light of the enormous preparation required and the ever growing public interest and attendants. It's in this way that they decided to make Essakane the permanent site of the Festival in order to begin building durable installations that could be used in the context of tourism promotion.
"Le Festival au Desert" is also a way to celebrate "La Flamme de la Paix" (The Flame of Peace), a name that was given to the ceremony where more than 3000 firearms were burned (and transformed into a monument) in 1996 in Timbuktu, putting a solemn end to the rebellion that, for years, shrouded northern Mali in gloom. Until today, this act still constitutes an example of how to manage conflicts, a model that ignites inspiration throughout the world.
The major position that culture has taken in occidental economies prefigures the posiion that culture will have in the southern economies in a few years. Thus, "Le Festival au Desert" would like to become a factor in job creation in the near region, thereby promoting local development as well as bringing together the people of the earth.