Lohri (Punjabi: ਲੋਹੜੀ (Gurmukhi), लोहड़ी (Devanagari), لوہڑی (Shahmukhi)) (sometimes spelled Lodi) is an extremely popular winter festival in India, especially North India. Lohri is usually celebrated in the outdoors by friends and family who get together and have a bonfire in the evening. Lohri signifies onset of intense winter in Punjab and surrounding areas. Cold weather is good for wheat hence farmers celebrate Lohri so that their crops lead to a good harvest.
During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a thief in folklore who helps thr and fights for their rights. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. These collections are known as Lohri, and they are distributed at night during the festival. Some may be offered to the sacred fire. Peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire as an offering to the God of Fire, Agni.(This part of the post was directly taken from wikipedia)
Yesterday, we had this Lohri in my society where Agni was worshipped. We were asked to throw peanuts, popcorn in the fire. There were many children in our society who were pretty excited about this. They were taking handful of popcorns and throwing it in the fire. The elders were doing the same. But one thing was very disturbing. It was not that the food items were thrown in the fire, it was about the items that was not religiously lucky enough to reach the fire. It was about the large pile of popcorns lying in the mud around the fire (as you can see in the photo taken by me)
In the pic, you can see the children of India; nothing surprising about them. The one on the closer side of the fire is throwing the items as the offerings, while the children on the other side is picking it up from the mud as their food! Each one is not aware of the actual meaning. The one who is throwing is not considering it as food, while the other who is eating is not considering it as an offering. The one was picking pop corns from the vessel and was throwing it in the fire, while the other was picking it from the mud, and eating it! Only common thing amongst them was, they were children, some were kids of the parents who were living in the society, while the others were the kids of the construction workers.
As a silent observer, I saw this scene. Like almost all Indians, I will forget this scene. But one thing I did while going, I gave the whole vessel of pop corns when no one was seeing. The kids grabbed them and ran away smilling.