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Pritha Manchanda Jan 09 2014

What is the Lohri Festival in India all about?

Neha Sharma Jan 07 2015
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Lohri is a popular festival celebrated in Punjab. Lohri in 2015 is on 13 January. It is celebrated every year on the eve of the winter solstice, that is, a day before Makar Sankranti. It is an agricultural festival associated with the harvest of rabi crops. People celebrate Lohri to give their thanks to nature as represented by the Sun God. All the festivities embody a spirit of goodwill and brotherhood. This festival is very similar in nature to Pongal, the harvest festival celebrated in south India at exactly the same time.

Lohri celebrations (photo by Lakshman Anand)

There are many origins of Lohri, all originating from folklore. Further there exist a lot of folktales told during Lohri festivities. One of the most popularly told stories during Lohri is that of Dulla Bhatti, a Robin Hood-like character from the Mughal period.

Dulla Bhatti is known for robbing the rich, distributing money to the needy and rescuing poor Punjabi girls from slavery and then arranging their marriages. This has led to unmarried women praying for a good marriage on this day. Besides this, there are a lot of other legends that find their way to the folk songs on this day.

Dulla Bhatti Samadhi (photo by Amrinder143)

Each year, children start gathering firewood and logs a week before the festival. The ritualistic bonfire marks a key and essential element of the festivities. In the evening of Lohri, family and friends surround the blazing warmth of the bonfire. While the wood crackles, people eat gur and peanuts, sing songs and share the festivities with their loved ones.

The Guru Granth Sahib praises this auspicious time of the month and says those who meditate before a fire will be blessed. Everybody prays for prosperity and good luck as they make offerings of til (gingelly), moongphali (peanuts) and chirwa (beaten rice) to the crackling woods.

Kites (photo by Subhrajit)

Kite flying on Lohri is popular in Punjab. People get onto the roof tops and fly kites of various sizes and colours. It is traditional to eat gajak, sarson da saag, makki di roti, ground nuts and jaggery. It is also traditional to eat "til rice" which is made by mixing jaggery, sesame seeds and rice. People wear colourful clothes and men do Bhangra while women perform Gidda to the beats of the dhol. You can enjoy all these wonderful celebrations if you head to Punjab for Lohri in 2015.

Lohri, which marks the highest point in winter, is considered especially important for new-born babies who are taken around the bonfire. Traditionally, it is considered that the first Lohri of a newly-wed couple is very important.

Lohri bonfire (photo by Karen Sandhu)

While Lohri is essentially a Punjabi festival, it is celebrated in some other states of north India as well such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. In the NCR region, which has a predominant Punjabi population, Lohri is celebrated very enthusiastically.

The day following Lohri is called “Maghi”. It signifies the beginning of the Hindu month of Magh. This is regarded as an auspicious day to take a holy dip in the river and to give to charity. Kheer is prepared with sugar cane juice to mark this auspicious day.

There are several homestays in Punjab, such as Citrus County in Hoshiarpur and Virasat Haveli in Amritsar where you can participate in the festivities for Lohri in 2015. Besides Lohri, there are other festivals in India, you should definitely know about.

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