Lohri is one such joyous and celebratory festival that gets North-Indians out of their warm houses and into the chilly evening breeze of January. It is a very popular Punjabi festival commemorated especially in Indian states like Punjab, Haryana and some sections of Himachal Pradesh. The delightful Lohri festival which includes a bonfire, people singing, dancing and munching on Lohri winter munchies like popcorn, Til ki Barfi, Murmura Laddoo, Dry fruit chikki and many more.
Origin of the festival
There are many folktales concerning the origin of this festival, however the main belief is that Lohri is a cultural celebration that marks the winter solstice. It is commemorated not on the eve of the winter solstice but on the longest night before the solstice actually ends. The festival is followed by Makar Sankranti.
It is also believed that the name ‘Lohri’ was derived from ‘Loi’, the wife of Saint Kabir or from the word ‘Loh’ meaning light and the warmth of fire. While, another legend says that Holika and Lohri were sisters.
However, the most popular theme of Lohri is that it’s a sign of Punjab’s harvest festival of the Rabi crops. It is also the pause before the general time to sow sugarcane combs which is generally from January to March and a harvesting cycle that commences in December and carries on till March with a 12-18 month cycle.
Traditions & Customs Associated with Lohri
In the morning of this festival, children run from door to door singing praises of Dulha Bhatti, a desi and Punjabi version of a heroic outlaw in English folklore; Robin Hood who was known for robbing the rich and giving to the poor. In return, the children were rewarded with money and eatables in the form of peanuts, Til sweets, Gajak, Rewri etc.
Kite flying is another Lohri tradition practised in parts of Punjab.
The Punjabi tradition of lighting a bonfire is probably the most evident symbol of this festival. Logs of wood organized with the help of the auspicious red coloured roli, religious chants and finally bordered with the help of some bricks is a memory preserved by everyone.
The bonfire is not just an empty symbol, but the official Lohri mascot with a lot of significance. The bonfire is an ancient tradition that signifies the beginning of longer days and the end of winter.
People chant traditional songs, dance and throw sesame seeds, popcorn and rewari in the fire. A few steps of Bhangra by the men and Gidda by the women are their ways to pay respect to the fire God as well. The fire is auspicious, fertile and points towards a successful agricultural year for the farmers, hence its presence is indispensable.
Punjabi’s love their food and for a festival like Lohri, ten different type of food items be-jeweling the occasion are necessary. Therefore, there is the staple Makke di roti with Sarson Da Saag, Gajak, Pindi Chane, Gur Ki Roti, Murmura Ladoo, Til ki Barfi, Gur Ka Halwa, Til Ki Chikki and much more.
So, this Lohri January 13 give your Friday eve a Punjabi tadka and be a part of this ravishing festival that brings people together and showcases the power of faith and religion.