All You Need to Know About Lohri Festival
It's a New Year, and Lohri is approaching, now that January is here!
Lohri Festival is one of the most prominent celebrations among the Punjabi and Sikh communities in North India, particularly in Punjab. Lohri Festival begins the year's celebrations with a homage to farmers for their tireless toil and labour round the year. To commemorate the end of the winter solstice, crowds assemble around big, roaring bonfires. So, Lohri is basically a winter folk festival in north India.
In Punjab, the Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh, Lohri is an official holiday. Lohri celebration is also held in Delhi and Haryana. Every year Lohri falls on January 13 and people have already started to prepare for the celebrations.
Here’s everything you must know about the grand Lohri Festival:
According to the Vikrami Calendar, Lohri occurs on the last day of Paush, the coldest month of the year, and is celebrated on the same day each year (January 13). In the bygone era, Lohri Festival was observed before the winter solstice, the year's longest night. It is now celebrated on the beginning of Uttarayana when the sun moves towards the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern Hemisphere.
Maghi is celebrated in Punjab after the Lohri festival, whereas Pongal is held in Tamil Nadu, and Makar Sankranti is observed in most other parts of the country, including Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Jharkhand.
The word Lohri comes from til (sesame) and rorhi (jaggery), which are traditional festival foods. Earlier in history, the phrases til and rorhi combined to sound like 'tilohri,' gradually changing into the term 'Lohri.'
Lohri is primarily observed in Punjab and areas of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu, and Kashmir. Nonetheless, like any other Indian festival, Lohri is celebrated by all Indians, regardless of religion or caste, bringing people together and forging a strong tie of humanity. Consequently, on January 13, bonfires, singing, and dancing are observed all around the country.
The Lohri Festival was traditionally held after the winter solstice to commemorate the coming of longer days. It's thought to have started at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, where winters are often cooler than the rest of India. People would congregate around a bonfire to commemorate the passing of the winter solstice and the promise of the coming spring season after weeks of harvesting the Rabi crop. The event is also devoted to Surya, the Sun God, because on this day, believers look forward to his return after the long winter days and pray for warmth and sunshine.
Another tradition connects Lohri to the story of 'Dulla Bhatti,' a Muslim bandit who lived during the Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign. He averted the sale of Hindu maidens to the Middle East as slaves. In the sight of fire, he would marry them to Hindu guys and perform songs in celebration, which is how the Lohri tradition came into existence. Sundri and Mundri, two maidens rescued, are remembered in Lohri folklore as Sunder Mundriye. 'Dulla Bhatti' is honoured on Lohri, with various songs and dances performed in his honour.
Lohri is extremely important to the farmers' community. Wheat is one of the most important crops grown in Punjab, and it is harvested in March or April after being sowed in October after the wet season. Before harvesting begins, farmers pray and express gratitude to Lord Surya, asking him to bless them with heat and warmth so that they can reap a plentiful harvest as a reward for their many months of toil. They shout "Aadar aye dilather jaye" as they march around the fire, which means "May honour come and poverty vanish."
The Lohri Festival is celebrated each year with the lighting of bonfire. Individuals begin collecting wood and timber weeks in advance for the same. Cattle dung is used to make small Lohri goddess idols, which are then placed beneath the fire. To purify themselves of their sins, people also take a plunge in the sacred waters of rivers.
The gathering of family, friends, and neighbours around the bonfire lighted after the sunset is the most thrilling part of the Lohri celebration. The blaze provides warmth to all those who gather around it on the chilly night of Lohri.
People wear new attire and shake legs to Punjabi folk music with dances such as Gidha and Bhangra. Plus, Lohri songs are sung by children and adults both.
Unique delicacies and desserts like sugarcane, sweets, peanuts and chirwa are thrown in the bonfire as offerings to the God of Fire, Agni. They are also distributed among people as Lohri prasad. Sarson ka saag, Makki ki roti, and pudding are the special Lohri food items prepared on this day.
Punjabi farmers observe the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the beginning of the financial New Year.
Newlyweds: After the marriage, the first Lohri has its own allure. The in-laws bring the newlywed wife to their home and organise a lavish feast. The newlywed girl wears traditional wedding attire and accessories with flowers and jewellery such as necklaces, earrings, bangles, toe rings, armlets, waistbands, and anklets. She uses mehndi as well as aromas like sandalwood paste and perfume. Friends and relatives come up to the new bride and groom as they sit in the centre of the celebrations, wishing them well and giving them gifts.
Newborns: Lohri is also significant for a newborn child. The mother is dressed up in new and beautiful attire with heavy jewellery, and mehndi is applied in an elaborate pattern to her hands. She is requested to sit with the newborn baby in her arms, and showered with fruits, sweets, clothes, jewellery, and money from family, relatives, and friends.
Lohri is a fantastic way to welcome the new year, with friendly gatherings, celebrations, and joy. This is a welcome tradition and an excellent opportunity to bring you closer to your family, friends, and community members. Lohri can be celebrated with grandeur with the entire community or in a small way with only one's family. Given the likelihood of Coronavirus spreading, the latter is recommended this year. Just remember to be extra cautious this year!
Wishing all of our readers a very Happy Lohri!
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