Lohri is a harvest festival and is celebrated in the land of Punjab. Lohri is mainly a festival of Punjabis, but it is also celebrated by people of other Northern Indian States like Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Lohri is the most popular harvest festival of Punjab and is celebrated amidst great gaiety and splendor. Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. In 2015, it falls on today.
Lohri marks the movement of the son towards the north (Uttaryan) as opposed to the south. (Dakshinayan). It is considered to be an extremely auspicious time as the sun enters the Tropic of Capricorn from the Tropic of Cancer. It is a festival dedicated to the Sun God and fire. The Bhagawad Gita deems it an extremely sacred and auspicious time, when Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly. And so, across India, people celebrate the month and the prodigious harvest it brings - Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The festival Lohri has a very old history. The festival marks the end of the cold chilly winter and welcomes the arrival of spring and New Year. It is believed that Lohri is the longest night of the year. After Lohri, the days become longer and the nights shorter. Lohri is celebrated in remembrance and praise of Dulha Batti. Dulha Batti was a Muslim robber who lived during the era of King Akbar. He was a robber but a good person. He would steal from the rich and distribute the wealth among the poor. He rescued girls who were being forcibly taken away. He arranged marriages of young girls with Hindu Boys and paid the dowries. He was a hero among the local Punjabis there who loved and respected him. Most Lohri songs are sung in praise of Dulha Batti which expresses their gratitude to him.
|Til ke Laddu|
There are many assumptions as to how Lohri got its name. Some believe that the name Lohri is derived from Loi, who was the wife of Sant Kabir. Some others believe that the word Lohri comes from the word Loh which is an appliance used for making chappatis in community feasts. Another belief says that the festival Lohri is named after Lohri who was the sister of Holika. It is believed that Holika perished in the fire while her sister survived. Some others believe that the items til and rorhi were merged together to form the word tilorhi which eventually got shortened to Lohri.
For Punjabis, more than just a festival, Lohri is also an example of a way of life. Like any other festival, Lohri brings together family, relatives and friends. People meet each other and exchange sweets. It is a harvest festival and especially important for farmers, but it is celebrated with great fervor by all Punjabis. On this day, they light a bon fire and dance around it. People throw rewaries, sugar-candy, popcorn, sesame seeds, gur, etc into the fire and sing and dance around it.
People wear their colourful and brightest clothes and dance the Bhangra or Gidda to the beat of the Dhol. Lohri to farmers signifies the commencement of a new financial year. Every year Punjabis who are far away from Punjab and live in other cities of India also celebrate Lohri. In places like Mumbai, Punjabis get together to light a bon fire and celebrate Lohri.
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki ki roti and sarson ka saag is quintessential. The prasad comprises of six main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.
The first Lohri of a newlywed bride and a new born child is considered very auspicious and important.
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