Celebrating the festival of Lohri!
Lohri is a popular and long awaited bonfire festival, originally celebrated in Punjab. It’s a belief that the festival commemorates the passing of the longest night before winter solstice (marking the end of winter season).
Punjabis practice their Punjabi folk religion and respect the season and the natural elements of fire, wind, water and earth. Lohri is a Punjabi festival celebrated by all faiths of the Punjab region. It is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops and is also considered to be a harvest festival. It is an important day for the farmers. Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri as the financial New Year.
Lohri Festival is usually celebrated on 13th day of January every year, before the Makar Sankranti festival. Anyone who has ever celebrated the festival in full fervour around the bonfire would tell you – gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are the three edibles associated with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a tradition to eat gajjak, sarson da saag & makki di roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat ’til rice’- sweet rice made with jaggery (Gur) and sesame seeds.
Punjabi women move in circles round the fire singing “Sunder mundriye ho!”, the folklore. It is actually the tale of a man called Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich and rescue poor Punjabi girls who were forcibly taken to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys in the village and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). There were two girls named Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye. The story stated serves the base for the folklore.
People also fly kites on this day. Kite flying event is enjoyed by all the age groups. People get onto the rooftops and fly kites of various sizes and colours.
In the evening, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of the houses. Men and women wear traditional clothes and dance around (parikrama) the bonfire and throw puffed rice, popcorn and other munchies into the fire, shouting “Aadar aye dilather jaye” (May honor come and poverty vanish), and sing popular folk songs and folklores. After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad (offerings made to God).
Lohri festival thus celebrates fertility and the joy of life.