Lohri is popular festival in north India, particularly in the Indian state of Punjab. It falls on 13th of January every year. This is the time the Sun starts moving towards the northern hemisphere marking the auspicious period of Uttarayan. Lohri is observed a night before Makar Sankranti, a festival that marks the end of the winter solstice and beginning of longer days.
Lohri is a holiday for the state of Punjab.
Why we celebrate Lohri: Significance
For people of Punjab, the festival of Lohri holds a great significance as it marks the beginning of the harvest season of Rabi crops in state and the end of winter. It is celebrated by making a huge bonfire that symbolises the Sun bringing in warmth. The significance of the festival is both as a winter crop season celebration and a remembrance of the Sun deity. Other legends explain the celebration as a folk reverence for fire or the goddess of Lohri.
Lohri history and beliefs:
In Punjabi folk tradition, Dulla Bhatti’s role in rescuing innocent girls from the clutches of lecherous men is enshrined in folk poetry that is sung during the winter festival of Lohri. The chieftain is believed to have rescued two Brahmin girls, Sundri and Mundri, from Akbar, who wanted them in his harem. Dulla Bhatti became their godfather and is believed to have married them off on Lohri with much pomp and festivity, directly challenging the authority of the emperor.
The tale of Sundri and Mundri was turned into a song that is sung during Lohri celebrations every year.
The festival is celebrated by lighting up a bonfire and dancing and singing around it. People eat and also throw popcorn, gur, rewaries, sugar-candies and sesame seeds into the fire. In traditional Punjabi families, dinner is served with gajak, sarson da saag and makki di roti on the day of Lohri. Lohri holds special significance for the newly-married couple or the new-born child in the family and is celebrated with great enthusiasm on these occasions.
Punjabi farmers observe the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the beginning of the financial New Year.