Why do we celebrate Lohri?
India is a land of festivals, & being an agricultural country, the end of barren winters calls for a celebration.
The first harvest of the year is welcomed in different colours across the country, with some parts observing the festival as:
- Lohri: Celebrated in Punjab & Northern states
- Pongal: Celebrated in Tamil Nadu
- Magh Bihu: Celebrated in Assam & other names in other states
So let’s look at how Lohri is celebrated in Punjab. We will discuss every aspect of this Harvest Festival. Such as: Why do we celebrate Lohri?, What is Lohri celebration?, Why do we burn fire on Lohri?, What is the significance of Lohri festival?, What do we eat on Lohri?
What is Lohri celebration?
Lohri is Harvest Festival Celebrated in North India. As mentioned before, a lot of Hindu functions involved around family members & the local community.
Lohri Is a festival that commemorates the passing of the winter solstice & welcomes longer days & falls on 13th Jan every year, a day before Makar Sankranti.
What does Lohri mean?
The word Lohri comes from the word ‘loh’, which means the light and warmness of fire. It is called the Festival of the Farmers or Festival of Harvest.
What is history of Lohri?
The Festival of Lohri’s origin dates back to the Indus valley civilization. Since this civilization prospered in the areas of northern India and Pakistan, the festival is primarily celebrated in a similar manner in those regions.
It’s celebrated by Hindus & Sikhs in the States of North India: Punjab, Jammu, Delhi, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
Why do we burn fire on Lohri?
As it’s still very cold, bonfires are lit in the village square & singing & dancing takes place around it.
Everybody wears the brightest clothes, say their prayers, Puja Parikrama, for health & prosperity.
Till, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire. For some, throwing food into the fire represents the burning of the old year and start the next year.
The traditional Bhangra dances to the music beats of the Dhol are often organized in villages.
What is the significance of the Lohri festival?
The religious significance is to thank the Supreme for our protection & prosperity.
- Lord Surya, the Sun God, represents the Life element
- Goddess Agni, the Fire represents Health
- Mother Earth represents food
What do we eat on Lohri?
As a harvest festival, Lohri is marked by eating traditional foods:
- Sheaves of roasted corn & nuts from the new harvest.
- Sugarcane products such as Gurh, solidified and unrefined sugarcane juice
- Tricholi: Til rice, gurh & sesame seeds
- Mustard greens or Sarson ka saag with corn chappadis called maki-ki-roti
Lohri items are then distributed at night during the festival to the whole neighbourhood.
Incidentally these foods are also prescribed according to Ayurveda to keep warm during winter months.
After the bonfire celebrations, on the following day, Hindus would go to a sacred river to bathe, to mark Makar Sankranti.
What is a first Lohri?
The first Lohri is especially celebrated as a grand occasion by family members to welcome
a new bride.
- The newly-married bride will apply mehndi & wear new clothes & bangles, which are gifted by her parents-in-law.
a new-born baby
- All the guests and relatives bring gifts for the baby and the new mother.
- The child’s maternal grandparents also give gifts to the child’s paternal relatives.
One tradional song sung by children is:
Tode upar saag.
Saag wich mirch!
Mirch lgi kodi.
Deyo sanu lohri.
These children are given sweets and savouries, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.
Story of Dulla Bhatti
Dulla Bhatti is the theme of many song of lohri.
He lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar & is regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Hindu girls from being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East.
Amongst those he saved were two girls Sundri & Mundri, who gradually became a theme of Punjab’ folklore.
As a part of Lohri celebrations, children go around homes singing the traditional folk songs of Lohri with “Dulla Bhatti” name included.
One person sings, while others end each line with a loud “Ho!” sung in unison. After the song ends, the adult of the home is expected to give snacks and money to the singing troupe of youngsters.
In Jammu, a special Hiran Dance is performed, where Children wear special garlands made of groundnuts, dry fruits and candies & go to selected houses, which have auspicious ceremonies.
Lohri is yet another reason for the family to get together & bond together on a joyous, auspicious time.