Dulla Bhatti and communalization of history

By Japal Singh for TwoCircles.net

Today is Lohri, a festival that is celebrated in Punjab with great gusto. Few days before, young boys go around house to house asking for Lohri. People give them sweets made with sesame seeds and jaggery. Young girls collect cow dung from each house. A statue of goddess Lohri is made,and all the cow dung collected is piled on top and a bonfire is built. People sing and dance around the fire,throwing sesame seeds in it.

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It is a harvest festival and end of month of Poh and beginning of Maagh according to Bikrami calendar.It is also the beginning of new financial year for the farmers. It is celebrated as Pongal in South India and Bihu in Assam and Bengal.

Some scholars believe that it goes way back to the times,when people living in this region harnessed fire.I am reminded of the first shloka of the first Sukta of Rig Veda,when I see Lohri bonfire- Agni milde—-.over the years many legends have arisen about Lohri.

Dulla Bhatti grave in Lahore. [Wikimedia commons]

One of the most prevalent legend now is about Dulla Bhatti, a great warrior of Punjab,who led a revolt against Akbar. Abdullah ” Dulla” Bhatti is credited with the slogan of Punjabis, ” Jind Desan Punjab Na Desan”( I will give my life, not Punjab). He would attack the invaders and free young girls, who were being taken as slaves and arrange their weddings as they were his own daughters.Two young girls Sundari and Mundari were such girls who have been immortalized in the Lohri song that talks about them and how Dulla Bhatti arranged for their marriage. It goes like-

Sundari Mundari Hoye
Tera Kaun Vicchora Hoye
Dulla Bhatti wala Hoye
Dulley Di Dhee Vihayee
Ser Shakkar Payee.

All over Punjab people sing this song remembering them and Dulla Bhatti on Lohri. My mother was from Bhatti clan, each Lohri her eyes would have a special shine when people sang about Dulla Bhatti. She was proud to be a Bhatti and wore it . Each Lohri she would tell us about the bravery and generosity of Dulla Bhatti.

Last year I was in a local temple where they were celebrating Lohri. Because of communalization of life children were taught that Dulla Bhatti was a Sikh who rescued Hindu girls from Muslims. When I told them that Dulla Bhatti was Muslim by religion and he did not care what was the religion of girls he rescued, they were all shocked. Such has been the poisoning of minds by communal propaganda,even basic facts are distorted. A great part of writing about Indian history has been injected by this poison.

Jaspal Singh a philosopher and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.