We are still on a high after Saturday.
We began what we hope will become an annual event, celebrating the Indian festival of Lohri (follow the link to find out more - it's fascinating). This is a celebration of the harvest to come, and focuses on gathering around fires to dance and eat nice things, so it sounded like the perfect festival for us to bring to Windmill. It's especially popular with the Punjabi community, who are well represented in the local area, so we put out the word that everyone was welcome and were delighted at how many people came.
We also spent some of our sessions before and after Christmas creating beautiful lanterns for the festival. We made some by perforating old tin cans, and others out of willow and glued tissue-paper. Gateway to Nature helped us, as did our regular volunteers. The results were just lovely and gave the polytunnel a wonderful atmosphere when they were installed.
We began the event whilst it was still daylight, by lighting 2 fires with the help of local children, one in our fire-pit and another in a special metal fire bowl. This kind of thing has to be done with health and safety at the fore-front, so we worked to a detailed risk assessment and before hand, we discussed fire safety with them. We were amazed when the children all explained the full detail of what to do if anyone accidentally lit themselves - stop, drop and roll. One of the visitors was from the Fire Service, and was delighted to discover how well the children had remembered the visit to their school from the Fire Safety team. (Note: This was a carbon-neutral event because all the fuel wood for the fires was from trees coppiced on our site.)
|The fire-bowl in action
The fires soon took, and with a designated adult to look after each one and keep the enthusiasm of young helpers to sensible levels, we were ready as the first arrivals turned up. As more people arrived, the dhol drummers started up, and the dancing started. Framework brought along some drums so visitors were able to join in with that too. Members of the Punjabi community brought food to add to the snacks we had provided, and the smell of freshly-cooked popcorn started to waft from the outdoor kitchen...
|The drummers gather around the fire
Meanwhile, in the polytunnel, Rosy ran a workshop on making decorative bird-feeder hangers from willow stickes, popcorn, peanuts and bird-cake. Families had a lot of fun making these and hanging them on trees and bushes around the allotment.
|Making the bird feeders
|Decorating the allotment with bird-feeder hangers
One of the traditions of Lohri is to walk around the fire throwing in food offerings, so some of the Punjabi visitors showed us how it was done and taught us rhymes for children to say. We discovered from our guests that the Festival is related to celebrating an Indian "Robin Hood" - Dulha Bhatti - who stole from the rich to give to the poor, and fought for their rights!
|The visitors enjoy traditional snacks
|What bird? Sybil and Tracey - 2 of the creators of the pheonix
(along with Chris and Kath)
As the sun went down, we lit the lanterns. It made the allotment look quite magical. All in all, we think Lohri is a great festival to celebrate in Nottingham!
|Lanterns light up the night
|A bit of festive magic as the lanterns are lit in the polytunnel