Farmers celebrate Lohri, burn copies of Farm Acts into ashes in the bonfire

Prayers were said for those who had lost their lives in the protests, the Lohri bonfire was fed with the copies of the contentious Law 

Farmers protestImage: Karuna John

At the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border of Ghazipur, thousands of farmers were joined and cheered on by many residents of nearby areas, as they consigned copies of the three farm Acts to flames. The farmers and their friends were celebrating Lohri on January 13, one of the biggest public celebrations across Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other northern states where families and neighbourhood light massive bonfires, and father around sharing peanuts, jaggery, popcorn, popped wheat and sweets. The harvest festival which is one of the most important for the agrarian community across India, and in other parts is celebrated a day later, January 14, as Sankranti, Bihu, Pongal etc.

However Lohri 2021, is one like never seen before, the farmers are out on protest, sitting on dharnas across the country. While the most massive congregations are now at various borders of Delhi. SabrangIndia spent the day at Ghazipur border, where preparations for the evenings Lohri programme began early in the day. The multiple kitchens continue to churn out hot fresh food with some special additions of peanuts, jaggery, sesame seed sweets and popcorn being served as the lohri offering as well, the sweet of the day at some kitchens was sweet carrot halwa. 

Soon tractors from Haryana rolled in with even piping hot rice and jaggery kheer in gant vats, another caravan of tractors from Uttar Pradesh came with a large supply of fresh milk. And some others even brought audio systems to play folk music later at night. “It is a festival of national integration here, January 26 will be even bigger, you just see,” said Nihar Singh, a farmer from Moradabad.

Farmers protestImage: Karuna John

Many farmers who have been protesting at Ghazipur for over a month, even confirmed that their extended families back  in Punjab and Haryana have also burnt copies of the Acts this Lohri. “My extended family told me they are also doing what we are here. They will send me a video late at night of the Lohri of the century,” young Jasjit Singh, a first year college student, and farmer from Uttarakhand says  the authorities should see the ashes and get the message. Many attending the Lohri gatherings  shouted slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership, saying the next elections will send the biggest message to the Centre if the laws are not repealed by then.  

“We do not accept these farm laws and we do not trust this committee which has always supported the aws,” said a farmer from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Sharing a hookah with him was a farmer from Haryana who said the agitation will only grow in size and intensity after the Supreme Court’s observation,“Lohri is one of the biggest festivals for me and my family, today I burn Modi’s Farm Law. He can come and see it for himself.”

The main Lohri bonfire was built on the Delhi-Meerut flyover, with firewood, and dried cow dung and straw pats, and one crucial ingredient was kept ready–copies of the farm bills. As the sun began to set, prayers were said for those who had lost their lives in the nearly two months of sitting in protest out in the bitter Delhi cold. Soon as the sun touched the horizon, the flames went up, and with it copies of the contentious Farm Acts that the farmers themselves have rejected long ago.  



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