Lohri is celebrated as a celebration of the agricultural activities of farmers. It marks the end of the harvesting season as well as the winter season in Punjab. Lohri is generally celebrated as Makar Sankranti throughout the country at the end of Paush month. According to the English calendar, Lohri falls in January every year.
Preparations for celebrating Lohri begin well before the actual festival day. Village women and children gather dry twigs and stick to make a big bonfire on Lohri.
On the festival day, with the sunset, the bonfire is lit with people dancing to the tune of Lohri songs.
Popcorn, revdi, peanuts, and sugarcane are an integral part of the celebration. A handful of material along with prayers are offered to the Sun God.
Interestingly, the next day of Lohri is celebrated as the month of Maghi.
According to popular belief, it is an auspicious day for taking a holy bath and donating. People make kheer in sugarcane juice to mark the day.
Lohri, Punjab's bonfire harvest festival celebrated in the month of Magha, signals a new beginning. In particular, the first Lohri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. Friends and relatives gather around the fire and perform Gidda and Bhangra on the beat of Punjabi Dhol.
The first Lohri of a Bride
The festival takes place at the girl's in-laws with a grand feast for family and friends.
The bride wears a traditional dress with sixteen adornments (16 things the bride usually wears).
The new bride and groom sit together in a central place as people offer them prayers with gifts.
The bride's mother-in-law presents the bride with new clothes and jewellery.
First Lohri of New Born
The first Lohri of a newborn child is very important where family and friends rush to bless the child with a prosperous and healthy future.
Many live together in ancestral homes, where invitation cards are already sent.
Family and friends bless the child as well as the mother with gifts.
Tradition of Lohri
Lohri is mainly the harvest festival of Punjabis. This festival marks the harvesting of rabi crops and hence all the farmers are given such a wonderful crop to thank God together.
Lohri-related rituals symbolize people's attachment to Mother Nature.
A few days before the festival, the youth gather in groups and walk in their areas singing folk songs.
By doing this they also collect firewood and money for the scheduled bonfire on Lohri night. On a special day, offerings of phulli (popcorn), peanuts (peanuts) and revdi (sweet namkeen made from jaggery and sesame seeds) are offered to Agni.
Legend of Lohri
Like all Indian festivals, Lohri has some legends and lore.
One of the many interesting legends is that there was a dense forest, known as ash, which lies between Gujranwala and Sialkot.
This forest was home to Dulla Bhatti, famous as Robin Hood of Punjab.
This brave and generous person always helped needy people.
During the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, a jealous Hindu spread a rumour that Dulla Bhatti's niece was very beautiful and would be credited to the Muslim harem.
Hearing this, the Mughal authorities wanted to take him forcibly. The girl's father was extremely worried and demanded Dulla Bhatti give her protection.
Dulla married her niece to a young Hindu boy in a simple ceremony in the forest. There was no priest to chant the sacred mantras in the forest, so he lit the fire keeping in mind the Hindu customs and he composed a song on the occasion himself. This song is still sung on the occasion of Lohri.
India is a "land of celebration" and according to Hindu mythology, there are 3.3 million deities. Lohri is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated at the beginning of the year to honour Agni (the Vedic god of fire). Every year, on 13 January (according to the Gregorian calendar), Lohri is celebrated with great pomp in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Jammu. Amid the dense fog and icy winds, people enjoy the festival of "Lohri" with traditional folk songs and dances.
What is the history of Lohri?
Religious facts: According to the Hindu calendar, the coldest month of the year ends at Pausha and in mid-January, the Earth begins its journey towards the Sun. According to the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna reveals his complete divinity during the period of Lohri. A day after which, the auspicious Makar Sankranti is held which marks the end of the winter season. On this day thousands of Hindus bathe in the Ganges to erase their sins.
Social facts: In northern India, wheat is the main winter crop that is sown in October and harvested in March or April. Farmers celebrate Lohri before harvesting the crop. It is believed that Punjabi and Haryanvi celebrate Lohri as a "harvest festival". Most farmers in Punjab consider the day after Lohri as the beginning of the new financial year.
How is Lohri celebrated?
On the morning of Lohri, enthusiastic children go to the gate of neighbours singing songs and ask for Lohri. Sesame laddus, peanuts, jaggery and traditional sweets like Revdi, Gajak, etc. are served as money.
Winter ends at Lohri so on Lohri evening, after sunset, huge logs of wood are collected and lit in the harvested fields. Children, men, and women roam around the rising flames, having fun, putting rice, peanuts, and sweets in the fire. People meet their relatives and friends and offer good wishes and offerings. This ritual is performed to honour the Sun God for his warm protection. Traditionally, the prasad consists of five main eateries with roasted sesame, jaggery, gajak, popcorn, and peanuts.
Lohri ends with a sumptuous dinner. All traditionally eat “Makki aur bajre di roti, with Sarson da saag” and “rau di kheer” (rice and sugarcane).
We welcome you in Sadda Pind Amritsar on this Lohri because like every year we will celebrate Lohri with great pomp. Like every year, this year too, we will welcome you with full enthusiasm. Come join us in this celebration and celebrate the festival of Lohri. The celebration will begin with fire this winter and end with traditional dance and singing.