The South Asian community to this day raises a glass and celebrates when a son is born, and the celebration differs significantly when a girl is born. We have come so far in many aspects of life, but still have a difficult time accepting the birth of our future, mothers, sisters, and daughters.
I had a chance to sit down and talk to Sumeet Kaur Gill, one of the founders of Nach Balliye, Lohri for Her and the brand new Pink Ladoos campaign, which hopes to raise awareness on this gender issue in the community today. This year’s Lohri For Her will take place on January 26 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
More info on how you can tickets here: www.eventbrite.ca/e/lohri-for-her-2014-tickets-9452567885?ref=ecount
What made you start this movement?
Lohri for Her was created by the ladies of Nache Ballye, a group of young vibrant females who are utilizing the power of dance to share an important message of why female girls born in the South Asian community are just as important as the males.
The movement was initiated in order to educate the South Asian community on the importance of the females being born into the community and their significance if the family unit. Lohri for Her will be celebrating its third anniversary on January 26, 2013 at Dreams Convention Centre.
What is the goal?
Lohri for Her celebrates the females by getting the community together and speaking about the importance a daughter, sister, and mother play in the family unit as well as how females are an integral part of the South Asian society at large. As Sumeet puts it, “without out females, there would be no males being born”. The ultimate goal of the Lohri celebration is be educate the community on the importance of females and why they need to be celebrated and not shunned. To help the families having girls on how to be joyous and offer tools in order for the family to reinforce the idea that the girl that has been born into the family is a gift that will make them proud as she grows.
Has the concept of Lohri been embraced by the South Asian community?
This is the third year, and the concept is steadily growing. Sumeet travelled to India and met a doctor, Dr. Harshinder Kaur, who is making a significant impact on educating the women in India on female feticide and the importance of the births of girls. After spending three months volunteering in India Sumeet thought it was imperative to do something in the community in Canada. Although, it seems the community has accepted that females are just as important as males, there still is a bias towards the females, families are still not celebrating in the same manner. A few may be hesitant, but, Sumeet’s team are trying to keep the topic light and exciting in order to get
the community to embrace the idea.
What makes the work you do so important to the girls and women in the South Asian community?
The work being done through Lohri for is important because the issues being addressed are difficult and Sumeet’s girls are trying to educate with smiles on their faces even though the topic is very heavy, it is kept light by incorporating happy events. Sumeet believes only through education can a change occur that will abolish negative beliefs that are prevalent in the South Asian community regarding the birth of girls. There are families that are happy and are celebrating gender equality and if we shine the light on these families and also assist one’s that are not on board, then we are making the change needed.
Also, the work is creating a platform to have open discussions such as violence, discrimination, dowry issues, child abuse to name a few. A large number of the families that are not accepting the birth of the girls tend to be new immigrants, but there are also first and second generation members that still believe that males matter more.
What makes the work important one thing stands out is the fact that we are addressing an issue with smiles on our face and we leave with a sense of pride and encouragement, nature of issue is negative and so depressing it’s easy to break a persons’ heart and this issue is not new its ingrained ant this new approach is what is refreshing and encourages a lot of families and especially females to just on board because they see its achievable and committing to the movement seems easy by the way Pink Ladoos approaches each event.
Easy to start the change but sustaining the initiative is going to be a challenging event why? When concept is new natural curiosity and excitement, but to sustain even with the disguise of celebration it requires a strong strategy and more substantial business model.
How are you hoping to change the face of Lohri?
Families that have been to Lohri for many years here and back home, associate the celebration with the birth of boys so it is almost a pleasant reminder for the parents and the daughters that this celebration was meant for every child. We hope the message we deliver that it’s never too late to appreciate your daughters is accepted with open arms and we have more families coming out to celebrate and take part in the festivities at the Lohri for Her event. Our strategy is to start a trend and make celebrating girls more common and also community based so that in the future it becomes a household celebration without having to give it a second thought.
Sumeet also want to spread the message not just in our immediate community but to other communities far and wide across the country. She wants the community to react by asking “not why are we celebrating a girl child, instead why are we not celebrating”.
Pink Ladoo Campaign
Lohri for Her is to inspire the families to celebrate the birth of their daughters and this year Sumeet and her group have gone one step further and created “Pink Ladoos” campaign.
Pink Ladoos is striving to change the negative stigma that surrounds the birth of baby girls. When a baby enters the world and the family wants to celebrate, they contact Sumeet and her team; the girls will come to the house, with Pink Ladoos, balloons and other PINK items to help with the celebration. The team will dance and then also sit with the family to speak about the importance of the “princess” that has come into their family.
A new idea can pick up momentum, but, Sumeet feels to sustain the concept it will require plenty of time, a strategy and a strong business model, all these ideas she is working on with her team of ladies.
It’s very new, and it’s also been another eye opener, the ladies thought they would be doing the teaching about gender equality, but, at the same time team is also learning and also being inspired by the different families they are meeting along the way, one Ladoo at a time.
For more information on Nach Balliye and Lohri For Her/Pink Ladoos visit: http://nachballiye.com/pinkladoos/
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