Lohri festival is a very popular Punjabi festival celebrated every year by the people of Punjabi religion in the South Asia. It is considered that it is celebrated in winter on the day when the day becomes a shortest day and the night becomes a longest night of the year.
It is celebrated as a harvest festival of the Punjab by lighting a bon-fire, dancing and singing in the praise of the Dulha Batti. Mainly it is a festival of Punjabis however it is also celebrated by the people living in other Northern Indian States including Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, etc.
Lohri Festival 2017
Lohri festival was celebrated with big enthusiasm in 2017 on 13th of January, at Friday in the Punjab, Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and other parts of the Himachal Pradesh.
Why Lohri Festival is Celebrated
There are many assumptions of celebrating the Lohri festival in Punjabis. Some of them are mentioned below:
- It is believed that the name Lohri was originated from the word “Loi” (the wife of the Saint Kabir).
- However, some believed that it was originated from the word “Loh” (a device used to make chapattis).
- Another belief of celebrating the festival of Lohri is, it was originated as Lohri behind the name of sister of Holika. People believed that the sister of Holika was survived however Holika herself died in the fire.
- Another reason of celebrating this festival is that Lohri word was originated from the word tilorhi (a combination of til and rorhi).
- Farmers celebrate Lohri as a beginning of the new financial year.
How to Celebrate Lohri Festival
It is celebrated by the people in India with lots of joy and happiness like other festival. It is the festival which brings together all the family members, relatives and friends at one place. At this day people meet and enjoy distributing sweets to each other. It is a most famous harvest festival of great importance for the farmers. People light a bon fire at this day, then sing a song and dance around it. They throw some rewaries, popcorn, sugar-candies, sesame seeds, gur and other things in the fire while singing and dancing around the bonfire.
It is celebrated at various places in India with different names such as Bhogi in the Andhra Pradesh, Magha Bihu in the Assam, Makar Sankranti in the Karnataka, UP and Bihar, Pongal in the Tamil Nadu, Tai Pongal in Kerala etc. A pooja ceremony is held in evening when people do prayer to Agni and do parikrama around the bonfire in order to get blessings for future prosperity. People enjoy eating delicious foods like sarson ka saag, makki ki roti, til, gur, gazak, moongphali, popcorn and phuliya as a Prasad. Everyone sing and dance and enjoy eating Lohri Prasad.
Everyone wear very beautiful and colourful clothes at this day and do Bhangra (or Gidda) dance on the beat of Dhol (a music instrument). Celebration of the Lohri signifies as a starting of the new financial year for the farmers. It is celebrated every year by the Punjabis living in India or aboard. Lohri festival is of great importance for the newlywed couple as well as newborn babies for the first time in their home.
At this day, the bride get decorated with all the things like new bangles, clothes, nice bindi, mehendi, saree, stylish hair make up with her well dressed husband wearing new clothes and colourful turban. At this day every new bride gets lots of gifts from her in-laws including new clothes and jewelleries.
Family members from both side (bride and groom) and invited other main guests get together in this grand celebration. Newlywed couple sit on one place and other family members, neighbours, friends, relatives gift them something. They all give blessings to the couple for their better life and happiest future.
The first Lohri of a new born baby is also celebrated in grand way. It is the most important occasion for the new born in the family. Everyone welcome new one in the family by gifting needed things to the baby. Mother of the baby sit at one place having a well dressed baby in her lap. Baby looks very nice in the new clothes, jewelleries and mehendi on the hands. Baby gets lots of gifts (including clothes, jewelleries, fruits, peanuts, sweets, etc) from both side like maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents.
Modern Tradition of Lohri Festival Celebration
Now a day, the Lohri celebration has become modernized. Earlier, people were used to of gifting gajaks and til however, modern people has started gifting chocolate cakes and chocolate gajaks. Because of the increasing pollution in the environment, people become highly aware and very conscious about their environment protection and its safety while celebrating Lohri. They do not cut lots of trees for lighting bon-fire during Lohri instead they try new tree plantation during this occasion.
Significance of Lohri Festival Celebration
The main crop of the winter called wheat is sown in the October however harvested in the end March or start of April. Before cutting, collecting and bringing crop to home, farmers celebrate this Lohri festival and enjoy. It falls in the mid of January month according to Hindu calendar when sun becomes farthest from the earth. Celebrating Lohri is the indication of end of winter season and start of the spring season gradually. During the celebration people take bath in the river Gange in order to get free form there all sins.
Everyone celebrate this festival to get fertility and prosperity for whole life. It is the most auspicious day which indicates the entry of sun in to the Makar Rashi which starts from 14th of January and ends at 14th of July. Some people celebrate it as an end means last day of the Maargazhi month (9th month according to the lunar calendar).
History behind Celebration of Lohri Festival
There is a very old history behind celebrating the Lohri festival. It marks the occurrence of New Year and start of spring season as well as the end of winter season. People believed that the night of Lohri becomes the longest night of the year from then every day starts getting big and nights gets shorter gradually. It is celebrated in the praise of Dulha Batti who was a Muslim robber in the time of King Akbar. He was used to of stealing wealth from rich people’s home and distributing them to the poor people. He was like hero of the poor people and helpless people as he saved lives of various girls who taken away from their home forcibly by strangers. He helped helpless girls in their marriages by paying dowries. So, people started celebrating the Lohri festival praising the Dulha Bhatti for his lots of helps and great works for poor people.
Occurrence of Lohri indicates the movement of sun from South towards North, and enters to Tropic of Capricorn from Tropic of Cancer. Lohri festival is dedicated to the God Sun and Fire. It is one of the happiest occasions for every Punjabi. Sun and Fire indicates the largest source of energy as well as spiritual strength to which people worship to get blessings. People offer some food-offerings to their deity such as peanuts, sweets, popcorn, til-chirva, revaries, gajak, etc. It is celebrated by the people of both religions Sikhs and Hindus.
Customs and Legends of Lohri Festival
On the day of Lohri in the early morning, children of the house go outside and demands some money and eatables including til or sesame seeds, gajak, peanuts, gur, sweets, rewri, etc. They also sing a song praising Dulha Batti who was a hero for Punjabi people.
People get together in the evening after sunset where they lit a huge bonfire to the harvested fields. People make circle, sings song and dance around the bonfire. They throw some rice, popcorn or other eatables to the fire while shouting loudly as “Aadar aye dalider jaye” means they call lots of honour to home and remove poverty. They pray to their God Agni and Sun for the land abundance and prosperity. After the pooja ceremony they meet their friends, relatives, neighbours, etc and distribute greetings, gifts, Prasad and lots of wishes. They enjoy eating dinner of delicious foods like makki-ki-roti and sarson-ka-saag. They make kheer of sugar cane juice as a sweet dish to especially celebrate this day.
They do special type of dance called Bhangra dance till late night on the beat of dhol and drum. The day after Lohri is called as Maghi day which indicates the start of Magh month. People take holy dip in the Gange River and give some donations to poor at this auspicious day. They arrange a great feast on the birth of new baby and newlywed couple in the home. They dance on the traditional bhangra songs on the rhythm of music instruments like dhol, gidda and drum. It is a great festival when people get together by taking some break to their busy schedule or job and share their company. This huge celebration brings the feeling of oneness and brotherhood to all. People give lots of thanks to their Almighty for happy and prosperous life on the earth.