Lohri is a popular Punjabi festival celebrated with gusto in the northern part of India on 13th January.
Customs and Legends
There are some interesting socio-cultural and folk-legends associated with Lohri.
In the morning of the festival, children go from door to door singing and demanding the Lohri ‘loot’ in the form of money and eatables like til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak, rewri, etc. They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti, who was known for robbing the rich to help the poor.
Festivities and Rituals
The night of Lohri is marked by lighting a bonfire and it is believed that newly married couples can fill their lives with happiness and prosperity on this day. People gather around the rising flames, circle around 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.
After the parikrama, people greet friends and relatives, exchange gifts and distribute prasad (offerings made to god). The prasad comprises of five main items: til-gajak, rewaries, jaggery, peanuts, and popcorn. Winter savories are served around the bonfire with the traditional dinner of makki-di-roti (multi-millet hand-rolled bread) and sarson-da-saag (cooked mustard herbs).
The Golden Harvest
In January, the fields come up with the promise of a golden harvest, and farmers celebrate Lohri during this rest period before the cutting and gathering of crops. It is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. The traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January and therefore, this festival is seen by some to be a harvest festival.
The day after that is celebrated as Makar Sankranti which marks the start of longer days and shorter nights
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