New Year has just rolled in and Lohri is not far away. A folk festival of Punjab, Lohri is celebrated majorly by the Sikhs and Punjabis in North India. Every year it is celebrated on January 13 to mark the beginning of longer days after the winter solstice. It is a traditional folk festival, predominantly celebrated in Northern parts of the country. As winter gives way to the Spring season, and the sun moves towards the Northern Hemisphere, days get longer. This festival is celebrated with joy and happiness.
This festival is also associated with the Bikrami calendar and is celebrated with a great gusto a day before the festival of Maghi, also known as Makar Sankranti. Lohri festival falls in the Paush month of the Hindu calendar and in the month of January according to the Gregorian calendar. It also holds a great significance for the newlywed couples who, as a tradition, take 7 rounds of the holy fire of Lohri. In the evening of the festival, people gather around the bonfire and throw puffed rice, popcorn in the bonfire. After this ritual, merrymaking continues with dancing on traditional songs.
There are many legends associated with Lohri, one of them being that Lohri was Holika's sister and while the former died in the fire, the latter survived the same. However, the one with the most relevance is the legend of Dulla Bhatti. The festival of Lohri is considered to be as old as the Indus Valley Civilization. It also has a mix of cultural and historical background attached to it. According to the history of Punjab, the Bhatis, which is a Rajput tribe, used to inhabit various parts of Rajasthan, and also certain territories of Gujarat. This was during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was during this time, a man named Dulla Bhatti, who was the then ruler of the tribe was put to death by the Mughals for revolting against him. It was said that Dulla Bhati used to rob the rich and then give it to the poor (like the popular character Robinhood) and thus was quite popular among the masses. His legends are still popular in Punjab and even the most popular song of Lohri, Sundar Mundariye has his mention. Once upon a time, Dulla Bhati saved a girl who was taken away by the Mughal officials and then arranged her marriage with a suitable Hindu boy. It is said that this event happened during the harvest time of Lohri. Thus, Lohri is considered to be quite a special festival for the newlyweds.
Lohri is a fun festival, with friends and family coming together to celebrate this joyous occasion. As the old year gives way to the new year, preparations to celebrate this festival begin in the earnest. It can be celebrated on a community or family scale as desired. Here are a few facts about Lohri that one must know.
Harvest Festival. Lohri is a popular harvest festival, predominantly celebrated in rural areas of Punjab and Haryana. The significance of the festival is more for agricultural communities. This festival celebrates Rabi or winter crop. A bonfire is lit and all the labourers come together, meet and greet each other, distribute gajak and rewri and have a fun time.
Hindu Festival. Lohri is a popular Hindu festival closely associated with the agricultural community. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate God Agni and Goddess Lohri. Sweets are prepared at home and offered to God Agni in the evening as prasad.
End of Winters. The festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of Spring season. Lohri is one of the coldest days in the winter season. Days get warmer and longer gently and gradually easing into Spring.
Solstice Festival. Just like Yuletide and Christmas are winter solstice festivals, Lohri is the Indian equivalent of these festivals and occasions. Due to differences in geographical locations and seasons, it takes place a little later in the mid of January.
Longest Night of the year. Lohri marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Thus, as the sun sets at the horizon, Lohri celebrations begin with a bonfire, drum beats, folk dances, and folk music.
New Financial Year. Lohri is also considered as the beginning of the new financial year for people belonging to the Sikh community. It is because, on this day, winter crops are ready and collected.
Lohri Goddess. The festival is named after the sister of Holika, Lohri. Holika is celebrated on Holi while Lohri is celebrated in January on the occasion of Lohri. It is also known as Lohi in Punjab, named after Sant Kabir’s wife.
On the eve of Lohri, people gather around a bonfire to make various offerings like til, moongphali, chirwa to the burning embers. It won’t be wrong to say that the festival of Lohri sets a bright tone for the whole year ahead. On this day, people also eat the sheaves of roasted corn from the fresh harvest. Moreover, there is a great demand for sugarcane products also like - gurh, gajak, etc. among the Punjabi community. These food items are an essential part of Lohri celebrations.
In Punjab, 10-15 days prior to Lohri, various groups of young teenagers take a stroll in their neighbourhood with the objective of collecting logs (in some places children also collect items like grain and jaggery) for the evening bonfire of Lohri. They do so with one group member who has ash smeared on his face and a rope tied around his waist. The idea behind practicing this ritual is to make sure that no one refrains from giving their share of treats, otherwise that boy will try to enter the house and smash clay pots or any other item he finds like a clay stove.
The Lohri rituals are symbolic to that of thanksgiving. It is a time to be grateful to nature for providing us with a good harvest and its abundance. The festivities showcase a good spirit of brotherhood, unity, and gratitude through family reunions and merrymaking which includes dancing on traditional folk songs. It is also the time to show gratitude to the Sun God for a good harvest.
The festival of Lohri brings a lot of joy, happiness, and good luck to households. The crop is ready for the harvest and a lot of joie de vivre can be witnessed all around. Here are the top five cities in India where this festival is celebrated with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm.
Chandigarh is a very beautiful and well-planned city and the capital of Punjab and Haryana. The festival of Lohri is celebrated with a lot of galore, gusto, and enthusiasm. Large scale Lohri parties are organised, people visit each other’s homes to meet and greet, exchange sweets, and generally have fun. Bright lights, bonfire, and decked up Gurudwaras make the whole ambiance festive and exciting.
The city of Golden Temple, Amritsar gets ready to celebrate this harvest festival with loads of enthusiasm. Women get ready in their best finery and ornaments to dance to the reverberating drum beats. Markets bustle with visitors and gear up to serve delicious food. A large number of devotees visit Golden Temple to seek blessings.
Jalandhar is one of the most popular and ancient cities in Punjab. Here, the excitement of Lohri festival is several notches higher. The jubilant mood of the revelers is contagious and seems to be all-pervading through the city. Preparations for the festival begin well in advance. Markets get decked up with decorations and glittering lights.
Ludhiana, the extremely gorgeous city in Punjab is another place where Lohri Festival is celebrated with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement. Vibrant clothes, glittering ornaments, foot tapping music, thumping beats, bright lights and more give a new and an incredible look to the city.
Delhi, the capital of India dons a new look on the much-awaited Lohri Festival. A melting pot of cultures, Delhi witnesses participation of people from all religions, castes, and creeds in Lohri festival celebrated all across the city. People love dancing to the peppy beats of Punjabi folk music and enjoy licking their fingers on delectable makki ki roti and sarson ka saag.
Ques 1. Why is Lohri celebrated?
Ans 1. Lohri is celebrated majorly by the Sikhs and Punjabis in North India. Every year it is celebrated on January 13. It is a popular harvest festival that celebrates the winter season fading away giving way to the Spring season. The significance of the festival is more for agricultural communities. This festival celebrates Rabi or winter crop.
Ques 2. Is Lohri a Hindu festival?
Ans 2. Lohri is a popular Hindu festival closely associated with the agricultural community. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate God Agni and Goddess Lohri. Sweets are prepared at home and offered to God Agni in the evening as prasad.
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