Ludhiana, Jan.12 (ANI): A voluntary organisation in Ludhiana, Punjab, is dedicating this year's Lohri Festival to the girl child to raise awareness about issues such as female foeticide and infanticide.
The executive committee of the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch Punjab organised the '20th Lohri Mela' here on Friday.
Women working in different fields were honoured with gold medals and Rs.5100 were fixed in the name of baby girls.
The Chairman of Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch Punjab, Krishan Kumar Bawa, said: "During the fair, we have felicitated new born baby girls by putting a fixed deposit of Rs.5100 into their bank accounts. Well known artists of Punjab participated and highlighted the issue of female foeticide. Around 30 artists have sung songs. We organised this Lohri fair with the objective of raising awareness about issues related to drugs, female foeticide and other social evils."
Girls are often viewed as a financial burden because of the dowry given by the bride's family to the groom - a social custom widely practised despite being illegal in India.
Most women are expected to do chores such as bathing livestock, milking cows or working in the fields. Education is not a priority.
According to the 2001 Census, 35 million women are "missing" in India-many of them victims of discrimination, neglect and violence, including female foeticide and infanticide-the killing of unborn female babies and children.
India has some of the best legislation to protect women and girls, but very little of it is practiced, say activists, adding that there is a lack of serious political will to implement and enforce such laws and punish offenders.
Lohri is north India's harvest ushering festival. It involves people huddled around giant bonfires and throwing rice and popcorn into the flames to thank God for a good harvest and seek prosperity in the coming year.
In the south, it is celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu. In parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti, while in Assam, it is observed as Magh Bihu. (ANI)