Last Updated: February 15, 2020 Jatin
As we’re about to enter another year of our life with a grand adieu of 2020, make sure to save some of your excitement to celebrate another big event which comes right after the New Year. Yes, I am talking about the popular Punjabi festival of Lohri.
What You Should Know about Lohri?
Lohri is one of the major festivals in Punjab and Haryana region, however, it is celebrated in the entire North Indian belt that makes it one of most popular festivals in India. Celebrated with love and ardour, the festival of Lohri is observed to pay reverence to the winter solstice. However, it is largely known as the harvest festival of Punjab, and hence, it has a great significance for the people of Punjab.
In the Punjab region, wheat is considered as the main crop; in the month of October, crops are sown by the farmers that are harvested somewhere in March or April. In the month of January, the lands get filled up with the crops of wheat with a promise of golden harvest. During this time, the beautiful Lohri festival is observed before the harvesting process of the crop.
When is Lohri?
The Lohri festival date in 2020 will be the same as every year – It will be observed on 13th January, a day before another popular Hindu celebration, Makar Sankranti.
There is a rich history of the festival, and hence, various legends are associated with the celebration of Lohri. The first one goes like this:
The ancient people once formed a chant (mantra) that protected them and their families from the extreme winter cold. The chanting of this mantra made Sun God hear their prayers and as a result of that, he showered a large amount of heat on them ensuring to lessen the effect of winter cold. In order to thank the god, people started chanting the mantra round a fire, and thus, came the origin of Lohri. In this legend, the fire of which the people take rounds of commemorates the Sun God.
Another folklore says that, in the ancient times, the people used to light the fire in order to protect themselves from the wild animals. According to them, this also protected their habitats. The fire used to be a communal one, in which everyone used to take part; the young boys and girls were asked to collect the woods from the jungle, and even now, it is a tradition where young ones go around to collect the cow dung for the fire of Lohri. In this legend, the fire is perceived as our protector. The ritual of couples praying for the child and parents praying for their unmarried daughters for a husband derived from this folk tale.
However, the last legend tells the story which dates back to the reign of Akbar. The story goes like this, in Punjab, there was a man, named Dulla Bhatti, who is said to be a Muslim robber. Despite being a robber, the man held a good reputation in the region. The reason for his good reputation was that he used to rescue Hindu girls from being a victim of human trafficking. Not just this, the man also arranged the marriages of the saved girls. His such great manoeuvre, made him famous in the whole region of Punjab. To commemorate this story, the songs are sung by the boys with an exclamation of ‘ho’, after each line. So, here present a few lines of one of those popular songs sung on the eve of Lohri.
Sundri Mundri Hei! Hoi!
Tera Kaun Vichara! Hoi!
Dulla Bhatti wala! Hoi!
Dullah Di Dhi viyahi! Hoi!
Sher Shakar pai! Hoi!
Kudi de Mamme aaye! Hoi!
Unane Churi Kuti! Hoi!
Jimidari Lutti! Hoi!
Ik kola Ghut Gaya!
Why it is Celebrated?
The festival of Lohri is celebrated to honour the winter solstice. This vibrant festival bids adieu to the winter season and welcomes the harvest season. Not just this, the festival also represents the harvesting of Rabi crops. Though Lohri is observed in entire North India, yet, it has a special significance in Punjab and Haryana regions. Since Punjab is touted as the breadbasket of India, the festival holds major importance for the farmers of the state who celebrate it to honour the harvest season, which is also esteemed as the golden harvest season. Apart from the harvest season, the festival also signifies the importance of fertility in Indian families (mainly in Punjab culture), and thus, Lohri is also considered a big festive occasion for the newlyweds and also the mother of newly born infants.
How is it Celebrated?
The main attraction of Lohri is the bonfire, which commemorates the Sun God, the harvest season, and the story of Dulla Bhatti. On eve of the Lohri, people arrange a bonfire in their front yard. Gathering around the bonfire, people celebrate the festival by singing and dancing on the folk songs.
There is a popular ritual where all those people gathering around the fire have to throw popcorns, puffed rice, peanuts and sweets into the bonfire. Besides, a puja (prayer) is also observed at the place of the bonfire. However, the prasad (holy offering) of the puja consists of six food items, revri & gajak (sweets made up of sesame seeds), gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanut), phuliya (puffed rice) and popcorn. Another ritual says that people have to perform parikrama (taking rounds) of the bonfire. With all love and ardour, greetings are also exchanged with friends and families.
To show their love for the festival, bhangra is also performed by the men. Whereas, female perform the gidda dance. Besides, drums and dhols are also played during the festival, on which, everyone dances with so much zeal. Apart from this, various folk songs are also observed during the Lohri celebration in India. In Punjab, during the time of this festival, various fairs are also organized that are marks the footfall of numerous people from far and wide. Races, wrestling bouts, singing, acrobatics, games, and food stalls are the major highlights of these festivals.
Important Things to Know about Lohri
- For Punjabi farmers, the festival of Lohri marks the beginning of a new year as the festival signifies the onset of the harvest season.
- In Punjab, there is custom to eat the signature food of the state, which is sarson da saag and makki di roti.
- The festival of Lohri is celebrated to bid adieu to the winter season and to welcome the harvest season and in order show their reverence, people greet each other with a term, “til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola”.
- Exchanging of gifts is one of the popular things to do during Lohri celebration; days before the festival, people start giving gifts to their friends and families. The gifts include jaggery, dry fruits, a basket of fruits, gajak, revri, sweets, and the sagan.
- The festival holds a special significance for brides celebrating first Lohri after marriage. Gifts are given to the newlywed couples as a token of love. There is also a tradition where the bride (as a new member of the family) perform gidda around the fire.
Best Place to Visit to Celebrate Lohri Festival in India
Well, if you haven’t been a part of this vibrant festival then I am here to give you some top places to visit for Lohri celebration. All these places come with a guarantee of some epic Lohri celebration, and you will surely love your time at these destinations.
- Amritsar: Undoubtedly, a not-to-miss out destination in Punjab whenever it is about the celebrating the festival of Lohri and the home to the famous Golden Temple, Amritsar is one of those cities in Punjab that have kept its culture and traditions well-preserved, and hence, the people of the city keenly look forward to the festival of Lohri.
- Chandigarh: Touted as one of the cleanest cities in India, Chandigarh is amongst the best places in Punjab to be a part of the effervescent festival of Lohri. Whatever festival it is, the people of Chandigarh know how to cherish a day or celebrate it to the fullest. With the traditional celebration which include singing and dancing, Lohri in Chandigarh is a high-spirited celebration.
- Delhi: Like the Punjab region, the capital city also celebrates the festival of Lohri with much devotion and ardour. Being a cosmopolitan, the entire city of Delhi celebrates this festival. However, there are few Punjabi areas like Punjabi Bagh, Karol Bagh, Tilak Nagar and Subhash Nagar where you can see a larger chunk of people celebrating the Lohri festival. Being a diverse city with many cultures, the Lohri celebration in Delhi, as compared to that of in Punjab, is bit different, yet, it is fun to watch.
- Ludhiana: Located on the bank of Sutlej River, Ludhiana is another place in Punjab where the winter festival of India, Lohri, is celebrated on a grand scale. In the city, the preparations of the celebration start a month in advance, people fly kites, dance performances are choreographed in advance, fairs are organized days before the festival, and much more.
- Jalandhar: One of the historical cities in Punjab is Jalandhar. Despite the modernisation, the people of the city have managed to keep alive the traditional and cultural history of Punjab. And if you want to witness the traditional celebration of Lohri, no other place than Jalandhar is best to enjoy that.
A Message from the Festival to the Society
This is a major question, what we actually seek from a festival? There is no doubt that we all love fiestas, whether Diwali, Holi, Christmas, or Lohri, but for once, do we ever actually think of the real importance of these festivals? I guess, no! Coming to Lohri, it is one of the high-spirited festivities in India and we all should be aware of the message which the festival delivers to the society. Let’s look at what the festival conveys to us:
- Since, the celebration of the Lohri is observed with the whole family, relatives and neighbours, it gives a special importance to the word ‘love’.
- Even after living in the modern world, the people celebrate this festival in their traditional way, which shows respect towards their culture.
- The festival is celebrated by farmers to welcome the harvest season which signifies the value of their livelihood, which is agriculture.
- By exchanging gifts and prasads with friends, families, and neighbours the festival also focuses on ‘Unity in Diversity’.
So that was all about the harvest festival of Lohri. Hope you liked the blog as much as I liked writing it for you.
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Published: 18 Dec, 2018