Sat, Jan 14, 2023
Lohri is a popular winter Punjabi folk festival celebrated primarily in Northern India. The significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many and these link the festival to the Punjab region. It is believed by many that the festival marks the passing of the winter solstice. Lohri marks the end of winter and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere by people in the northern region of the Indian subcontinent. It is observed the night before Maghi, also known as Makar Sankranti, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Vikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year (13 January).
Lohri is an official holiday in Punjab, the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated in Delhi and Haryana but is not a gazetted holiday. In all these areas, the festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims. In Punjab, Pakistan it is not observed at the official level, however, Hindus and Sikhs, and some Muslims observe the festival in rural Punjab and in the cities of Faisalabad and Lahore. Muhammad Tariq, former director of Faisalabad Arts Council, believes it is important to keep the festival alive as Lohri is celebrated in Pakistan Punjab and in Indian Punjab.
The ancient significance of the festival is it being a winter crop season celebration and is linked to the Punjab region. Popular folklore links Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti . The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legend of Dulla Bhatti whose father was a zamidar who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Punjabi 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’s 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. Lohri also marks the beginning of the harvest season and sunny days.
Wish your dear ones anywhere in the world Happy Lohri with these free Lohri Greetings for the upcoming Harvest Festival of Punjab – Lohri.
The festival is celebrated by lighting bonfires, eating festive food, dancing and collecting gifts. In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. Most North Indians usually have private Lohri celebrations, in their houses. Lohri rituals are performed, with the accompaniment of special Lohri songs.
Singing and dancing form an intrinsic part of the celebrations. People wear their brightest clothes and come to dance the bhangra and gidda to the beat of the dhol. Punjabi songs are sung, and everybody rejoices. Sarson da saag and makki di roti is usually served as the main course at a Lohri dinner. Lohri is a great occasion that holds great importance for farmers. However, people residing in urban areas also celebrate Lohri, as this festival provides the opportunity to interact with family and friends.
During the day, children go from door to door singing songs and are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded as inauspicious. Where families are welcoming newlyweds and new borns, the requests for treats increases.
The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts), and phuliya or popcorn. Lohri is then distributed at night during the festival. 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 on Makar Sankranti
The bonfire is lit at sunset in the main village square. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar candy, and rewaries on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire, a tradition common in winter solstice celebrations. It is traditional to offer guests til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Milk and water are also poured around the bonfire by Hindus to thank the Sun God and seeking his continued protection.
Among some sections of the Sindhi community, the festival is traditionally celebrated as Lal Loi. On the day of Lal Loee children bring wood sticks from their grandparents and aunties and light a fire burning the sticks in the night with people enjoying, dancing, and playing around the fire. The festival is gaining popularity amongst other Sindhis where Lohri is not a traditional festival.