Celebrate Lohri.

Festival of Lohri is celebrated on January 13 every year. Date of the festival depends on solar calendar hence it remains the same always. Lohri date is auspicious and significant for Hindus. On January 13 every year sun begins its Uttarayan journey (northward journey) and takes entry in to Makar Rashi or Tropic of Capricorn. The period of Uttarayan (January 14 to July 14) is considered propitious by Hindus. According to Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna manifests himself in his full magnificence during this time.

Lohri marks the coldest day in northern India. The earth is farthest away from the sun at this time and begins its journey towards the sun on Lohri. Hence bonfire Festival of Lohri marks the end of cold month of Paush and beginning of Magh or the arrival of spring. This shift in season gives people all the more reason to celebrate. Lohri also marks the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar.

Festival of Lohri is succeeded by Makar Sankranthi – a popular festival in central India. The auspicious day of Makar Sankranti (January 14) is celebrated as Bhugali Bihu in Assam, Pongal in South India and Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh.

The 13th day of January or the date of Lohri is considered extremely auspicious by Hindus as it marks the sun’s entry in to the ‘Makar Rashi’ (the Capricorn) from the Tropic of Cancer. In other words, sun starts moving towards Uttarayan (North) from Dakshinayana (south). The earth is farthest from the sun at this time and begins its journey towards the sun. Thus, marking the end of the coldest month of the year (Paush) and the beginning of the month of Magh (January- February). Lohri also marks the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar.

The period of Uttarayan (January 14 to July 14) is regarded sacred by Hindus. According to Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna manifests himself in his full magnificence during this time. Festival of Lohri is succeeded by Makar Sankranthi. The auspicious date of Sankranthi (January 14) is celebrated all over the country by different names and in different manner.

The origin of the Lohri can be traced back to the tale of Dulla Bhatti. By the end of the first week of January, small groups of boys ring the doorbell of houses and start chanting the Lohri songs related to Dulla Bhatti. In turn, the people give them popcorn, peanuts, crystal sugar, sesame seeds (til) or gur as well as money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspiciousLohri marks the end of winter on the last day of Paush, and beginning of Magha (around January 12 and 13), when the sun changes its course. It is associated with the worship of the sun and fire and is observed by all communities with different names, as Lohri is an exclusively Punjabi festival. The questions like When it began and why is lost in the mists of antiquity.

The origin of Lohri is related to the central character of most Lohri songs is Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber who lived in Punjab during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued Hindu girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East. He arranged their marriages to Hindu boys with Hindu rituals and provided them with dowries. Understandably, though a bandit, he became a hero of all Punjabis. So every other Lohri song has words to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.

Some believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Sant Kabir, for in rural Punjab Lohri is pronounced as Lohi. Others believe that Lohri comes from the word ‘loh’, a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapattis for community feasts. Another legend says that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished in the Holi fire, the latter survived. Eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is considered to be essential on this day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri.

Ceremonies that go with the festival of Lohri usually comprises of making a small image of the Lohri goddess with gobar (cattle dung), decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. The final ceremony is to light a large bonfire at sunset, toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaries in it, sit round it, sing, dance till the fire dies out. People take dying embers of the fire to their homes. In Punjabi village homes, fire is kept going round the clock by use of cow-dung cakes

Harvest Festival of Punjab

Lohri is the harvest festival of Punjab, famously known as the the breadbasket state of India. Thus, people residing in Punjab attach a great significance to Lohri, the festival in feasts and foods. This harvest festival is celebrated to mark both celebration and sharing.

Lohri festival prompts people to be thankful for God’s provision and to celebrate his creation, its focus on farming.

In Punjab, wheat is the main winter crop, which is sown in October and harvested in March or April. 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. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival, it is also an example of a way of life.

Celebrating The Harvest Festival

Lohri is a festival of zeal and verve and marks the culmination of the chilly winter. In true spirit of the Punjabi culture, men and women perform Bhangra and Giddha, popular Punjabi folk dances, around a bonfire. Enthusiastic children go from house to house singing songs and people oblige them generously by giving them money and eatables as offering for the festival.

Logs of wood are piled together for a bonfire, and friends and relatives gather around it. They go around the fire three times, giving offerings of popcorns, peanuts, rayveri and sweets. Then, to the beat of the dhol (traditional Indian drum), people dance around the fire. Prasad of til, peanuts, rayveri, puffed rice, popcorn, gajak and sweets is distributed. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni for abundant crops and prosperity.

Lohri is also an auspicious occasion to celebrate a newly born baby’s or a new bride’s arrival in the family. The day ends with a traditional feast of sarson da saag and makki di roti and a dessert of rau di kheer (a dessert made of sugarcane juice and rice). The purpose of the Lohri harvest ceremony is to thank the God for his care and protection. During this festival the people prepare large quantities of food and drink, and make merry throughout the day and night. Therefore everyone looked forward to this day.

Thus the jubilation at a bountiful harvest becomes the reason for the celebration of Lohri. It is one of the most popular harvest festivals of Punjab, with fairs held at various places. Dancing men and women, sing and dance around the bonfire and people come out of their houses to greet one and all.

There are few renowned legends associated with this historic festival of Punjab, the most significant of them being the Dullah Bhatti, which evolved around the Festival of Lohri. Lohri marks the end of the dreary and awfully cold month of Pos (mid Dec to mid Jan) and the next day of Makar Sakranti, ushers in the bright and sunny month of Magh. This is particularly a happy occasion for the couplesLohri after their marriage and also the first Lohri of the son born in a family. who for the first time celebrated

The Legend of Sun God
Few days before Lohri, a bevy of village maidens assembles and visits the households to ask cow-dung cake. The girls gather round the house and chant:

We’ve come, all the girls of the village!

We’ve come to your courtyard!

And so they go from house to house collecting cow-dung cakes till they have a veritable pile. They deposit all of them in one house and return to their homes. Their is a valid reason for girls to perform this ritual.

Lohri is celebrated on the last day of the month of Pans to mark the end of winter. It is said that the forefathers formulated a sacred mantra which protected them from the cold. This mantra invoked the Sun God to send them so much heat that the winter cold would not affect them. And, in thanks-giving to the Sun God, they chanted this mantra round a fire on the last day of Pans. The Lohri fire is symbolic of the homage to the sun. A song is sung on this occasion:

“Where have the shawls and braziers gone?
To the golden mountain, Where’s the golden mountain gone?
To the sun’s ray, Where has the sun’s ray gone?
To the sun, Where’s the sun gone?
To the fire, The fire burns, the ray warms
The snows melt, the cold days have ended.”

Our ancients believed that the flames of the fires they lit took their message to the sun, and that is why on the morning after Lohri, which is the first of the new month Magh, the sun’s rays suddenly turn warm and take the chill out of people’s bones.

Another version of Lohri
“There is also another version of Lohri. In olden times, human beings lit fires to keep away flesh-eating animals and protect their habitations. Everyone contributed to this communal fire, for which young boys and girls collected firewood from the jungle. That is why even today when people burn cow-dung cakes it is teenagers who go around collecting them. The Lohri bonfire is symbolic of our old method of protecting ourselves as well as a form of fire worship. It is to the Lohri fire that couples pray for more children and parents for husbands for their unmarried daughters.

The Legend of Dullah Bhatti
On the eve of Lohri the most popular songs sung by groups of boys invariably end with the exclamation ‘ho’:

Sundri Mundri Hei! Hoi!
Tera Kaun Bechara! Hoi!
Dullah Bhatti wala! Hoi!
Dullah Di Dhi viyahi ! Hoi !
Sher ShaKar pai! Hoi!
Kuri de Mamme aaye! Hoi!
UnaNe ChuRi Kuti! Hoi!
Jimidari Lutti! Hoi!
Ik kola GhuT Gaya!
Jimidar Apni……

Since Lohri is also associated with weddings, many Lohri songs are based on the old love story of Dulla Bhatti. This is the tale of a man who rescued a girl from her cruel abductors and adopted her. Finally he arranged for her marriage, as if she were his own daughter. These songs exhort the youth to protect the honor of their sisters and daughters, and punish those who try to dishonor them. Everywhere in Punjab ‘Vars’ (songs) of his heroism and valor are sung and recited.

Customs and Traditions of Lohri

The various customs and traditions attached to the festival of Lohri signifies the harvesting of the


Rabi crops. The people of Northern India, especially Punjab and Haryana celebrate Lohri, to mark the end of winter. Harvested fields and front yards are lit up with flames of bonfires, around which people gather to meet friends and relatives and sing folk songs. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival; it is also an example of their love for celebrations. Lohri celebrates fertility and the joy of life. People gather around bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular and folksongs and exchange greetings.

In the morning, children go from door to door singing songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood who robbed from the rich and helped the poor. These visitors are usually given money as they knock on their neighbor’s doors. In the evening, people gather around bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice, and popcorn into the flames, sing popular folk songs and exchange greetings.

The Bonfire Customs & Tradition
In the evening, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle 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. This is a sort of prayer to Agni, the fire god, to bless the land with abundance and prosperity.

After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad (offerings made to god). The prasad comprises five main items: til, gajak, jaggery, peanuts, and popcorn. Winter savories are served around the bonfire with the traditional dinner of makki-ki-roti (multi-millet hand-rolled bread) and sarson-ka-saag (cooked mustard herbs).

On the Lohri day everyone gets into their best clothes and is festive. Gifts of sweets are exchanged. The courtyard and rooms of the house are swept and sprinkled with water. As the sun sets, all people dress up in their best and gather around the bonfire. Newly wed ones wear jewelery. The new-born are given little combs to hold. A burning fagot is brought from the hearth and sets the Lohri bonfire alight. As the flames leap up, the girls throw sesame seed in them and bow. Someone sings:

“Let purity come, dirt depart
Dirt be uprooted and its roots Cast in the fire.”

People throw sticks of sugarcane into the fire and an aroma of burning sugar spreads in the atmosphere. Girls light fireworks and sparklers. The fire’s glow lights faces with a golden hue. People sing and dance till the early hours of the morning, and little children sleep in their mother’s laps.

When people throw sesame seeds in the fire they ask for sons. The saying is: As many as the elder brother’s wife throws, so many sons the younger brother’s wife will bear. That is why in homes where there is a new-born son or a newly wed man, Lohri is celebrated with even greater enthusiasm, and sweets made of molasses and sesame seed are sent to relatives and friends. Since the Punjabi word for sesame seed is til and for molasses rorhi the festival is also called Tilori.

Lohri is also an occasion when parents give presents to their newly married daughters. “For peasants, Lohri marks the beginning of a new financial year because on this day they settle the division of the products of the land between themselves and the tillers.

The History of Lohri

The history of Lohri, a seasonal festival of North India is as old as that of story of Indus ValleyLohri marks the beginning of the end of winter and the coming of spring and the new year. The fires lit at night, the hand warming, the song and dance and the coming together of an otherwise atomized community, are only some of the features of this festival. The Lohri of north India coincides with Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Magha Bihu in Assam, Tai Pongal in Kerala, all celebrated on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. civilization itself. The Festival of

There are some interesting socio-cultural and folk-legends connected with Lohri. According to the cultural history of Punjab, Bhatti, a Rajput tribe during the reign of Akbar, inhabited parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Gujarat (now in Pakistan). Dulla Bhatti, Raja of Pindi Bhattian, was put to death by the Mughal king for revolting against him. The tribal mirasis (street singers) trace the history of the tribe and interestingly, claim Maharaja Ranjit Singh as one of its scions.

Dulla Bhatti, like Robin Hood, robbed the rich and gave to the poor. The people of the area loved and respected him. He once rescued a girl from kidnappers and adopted her as his daughter. His people would remember their hero every year on Lohri. Groups of children moved from door to door, singing the Dulla Bhatti folk-song: “Dulla Bhatti ho! Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho! Ser shakar pai ho!” (Dulla gave his daughter a kilo of sugar as a marriage gift).

Lohri is essentially a festival dedicated to fire and the sun god. It is the time when the sun transits the zodiac sign Makar (Capricorn), and moves towards the north. In astrological terms, this is referred to as the sun becoming Uttarayan. The new configuration lessens the ferocity of winter, and brings warmth to earth. It is to ward off the bitter chill of the month of January that people light bonfires, dance around it in a mood of bonhomie and celebrate Lohri.

Fire is associated with concepts of life and health. Fire, like water, is a symbol of transformation and regeneration. It is the representative of the sun, and is thus related, on the one hand with rays of light, and on the other with gold. It is capable of stimulating the growth of cornfields and the well being of man and animals. It is the imitative magic purporting to assure the supply of light and heat. It is also an image of energy and sp
iritual strength. That is why the Lohri fire gets sanctified and is venerated like a deity. On this occasion, people offer peanuts, popcorn and sweets made of
gazak, til- chirva, and revri – to propitiate fire as a symbol of the sun god.

Dulha Bhatti

Dulha Bhatti also popularly known as Robinhood is the heroic icon that is associated with the harvest festival of Lohri. The legendary figure of Dulha Bhatti also represents the glorious secular tradition of Lohri bonfire. Even today, children go door to door singing traditional folk songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a thief who helped the poor and fought for their rights. There are hundreds of traditions and stories associated with this legendary figure in Punjab. The medieval folklore relates the celebration of Lohri to the legendary figure of Dullah, who was the contemporary of yet another Super Human, poet Divine, Sri Guru Arjan Dev, the Fifth Master, who sacrificed his life at the altar of humanity at Lahore.

History of Dulha Bhatti

Centuries ago, rulers of Delhi controlled large parts of the fertile province of Punjab. However, due to weak governments at Delhi, there was a perennial flow of hordes of invaders from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Persia, Greece and Asia Minor through the Khyber Pass into the sub-continent and the people of Punjab always had to bear the maximum brunt of their pilferage, loot and plunder.

There is a vast tract of semi-arid region lying between rivers Chenab and Ravi, which now falls in the districts of Sheikhupura and Faislabad, called the Saandal Bar. The people of this area were known to provide stiffest opposition to marauders. The Mahmud of Ghaznawi had carried out one special campaign to subdue the burly and bold Virk Jatts, Gurjars and Bhatti Rajputs of Saandal Bar. Even Babur makes a mention of the resistance offered to him by these chivalrous people in his autobiography ‘Baburnama.’ From a social point of view these valiant tribesmen had a very secular outlook and their lifestyle was a composite blend of Hindu and Islamic rituals and traditions. In due course of time, the Mughals had consolidated their hold over the entire country but dominance of the region lying between the Chenab and Ravi, eluded them. People of this area never paid any taxes rather they openly defied the authorities and indulged in looting the royal caravans and treasures.

‘Saandal’, a warlord of Bhatti Rajput clan led these tribals. He openly rebelled against the Mughal Imperialism. Prince Jahangir, the heir apparent fired with zeal to prove his prowess carried out campaigns to consolidate the Mughal authority in the region. There were many skirmishes in which Saandal and his son Farid were captured and executed. Their skins were peeled from dead bodies, filled with chaff and hanged at the Delhi gate of the Fort of Lahore to instill a sense of fear amongst the rebels.

However, son of Farid, Abdullah or Dullah as he is fondly called remained unfazed and continued his defiant activities. Dullah earned notoriety in the eyes of authorities. He looted wealthy landlords and Imperial officers and distributed the booty amongst the poor. Dullah enjoyed huge popularity amidst the poor tribal folks of the area. He came to be regarded as a father figure for the distressed and oppressed. He became a living embodiment of the chivalrous and secular, socio-cultural character of the region.

Traditional Stories of Dulha Bhatti

Legendary stories are associated with the brave Dulha Bhatti. He used to rob rich to help the poor and needy. It is believed that Dullah had restored the prestige of an innocent girl whose modesty was outraged by a wealthy Zamindar. There are various versions of the actual story. Some traditions say that Dullah had adopted this girl as his daughter and arranged her marriage in the Jungles of ‘Saandal Bar’. As there was no priest nearby to chant the Vedic Hymns and solemnize the marriage Dullah had lit a bonfire and composed an impromtu song, “Sunder Mundriye Tera Kaun Vichara ! Dullah Bhatti Wala Ho! Dullaeh Di Teeh Viahi Ho! Ser Shakar Payi !” The bride and the groom were asked to take pheras of the bonfire as Dullah sang this hilarious song.

Yet another tradition says he had safely rescued a poor girl from the clutches of a Mughal general and later arranged her marriage. Later on people collectively composed this Lohri song in honor of his chivalrous deed. Dullah Bhatti sacrificed his life fighting the Mughals, in one of the battles.

Promise of Golden Harvest
In Punjab, Rabi or winter crop is sown in the month of October and harvested in the month of March or April. For the farming community mid-January is an apt time to celebrate Lohri as fields are blooming and promising a golden harvest at that time. Besides, January is the period of rest for farmers as there is still sometime before they begin cutting of the crop.

Social Significance

Though Lohri festival has no religious significance but it holds a great social significance and is celebrated as a day of imparting social love to one and all. The festival of Lohri is meant to relieve people from worldly day to day routine, and make them relaxed, cheerful and happy. It is the time when people from all castes and social strata come together forgetting all past differences and grievances. Every year Lohri succeeds in bridging the social gap, as people visit homes, distribute sweets and greet each other.

Apart from this, the festival of Lohri is related to the harvest season. Harvest and fertility festivals a special significance for an agrarian country like India. Punjab being a predominantly agriculturalLohri is symbolic of ripening of the crops and of copious harvest. Lohri instill sensitivity among the people towards their environment and culture. The fundamental theory behind the festival of Lohri is the sense of togetherness and the culturally rich legacy of the people of Punjab. state that prides itself on its food grain production, it is little wonder that Lohri is its one of the most significant festival. Thus,

Lohri in Punjab and Haryana have always been celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. They believe in celebrating this harvest festival together and rejoicing it to the fullest. For the masses this festival is a popular occasion for social intercourse and enjoyment. They make a bonfire and roast ‘fresh chholia‘ (green gram) in pods with its leaves and stems intact, and eat it. They also sing and dance sitting around the fire. Lohri is thus a community festival and is always celebrated by getting together with neighbors and the relatives.

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 five main items: til (gingelly) , gajak (a hardened bar of peanuts in jaggery or sugar syrup) , gur (jaggery) , moongphali (peanuts) , and phuliya (popcorn). There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolises a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.

Therefore, the festival of Lohri has great social significance. This time is considered auspicious for marriages and to undertake new ventures. The farmer, comparatively free from his yeoman’s duties, takes to fun and frolic. The golden color of the ripening corn in the fields pleases him. For newly-weds and newborns, Lohri is a special occasion. Families of the bride and groom get together and celebrate by dancing around the fire and expressing their joy. Lohri is a grand event of social and cultural integration, bringing about unity, amity, harmony among all castes and communities.

The First Lohri

The first Lohri celebrated by a new bride or a newborn represents a grand occasion and immediate family members are invited for feast and exchange of gifts. Once the party is over, Lohri is celebrated with traditional dancing and singing around the bonfire. Lohri pampers women and children. This is particularly a happy occasion for the couples who for the first time celebrated Lohri after their marriage and also first Lohri of a new born child either a girl or a boy in a family.

On the first Lohri of the the recently wedded bride or a new born, people give offerings of dry fruits, revri (a kind of sweet made of sugar and sesame seeds), roasted peanuts, Sesame Ladoo and other foods to the fire, as well as sharing them with their family and friends gathered around the fire. They perform the ‘Bhangra’ dance, in groups around the fire. The dancing and singing continues well into the night. The Bhangra dance has rhythmic movements of the feet, shoulders and body, with outstretched hands and a lot of clapping by women partners. Food eaten is generally vegetarian and traditionally, no alcoholic drinks are supposed to be consumed.

The first Lohri of a bride
The first Lohri of a bride is considered very important. It is celebrated with increased fervor and on a larger scale. The family of the newly wedded wife and husband gather around the fire wearing their best , often new clothes, decorated with beautiful Punjabi embroidery in gold and silk threads with mirror work. The newly married woman wear new bangles, apply henna or ‘mehndi’ on their hands and put a colorful bindi, a decorative spot, on their foreheads. The husband also wear new clothes and colorful turbans. The new bride of the family on her first Lohri, is presented with beautiful new clothes and jewelery by her parent in-laws. She wears bangles almost up to her elbows.

The first Lohri celebrated by a new bride represents a grand occasion and is comparable to the Sindhara of Rajasthan and Delhi. The mother-in-law presents heavy garments and jewelry to the new bride. Unlike Sindhara, in this case the bride remains in her in-law’s house where a grand feast is arranged and all sons and daughters of the house with their spouses and children and all their close friends and neighbors are invited. Early in the evening, when the main people have arrived, the new bride is dressed in her best salwar suit or ghaghra and is made to sit, along with her husband, in a central place where the father-in-law and mother-in-law perform the presentation of clothes and jewelry. The close relatives and friends also join in and present clothes or cash to the new bride.

The first Lohri of a new born
The first Lohri of a new born is a special occasion in which all friends and family join to celebrate. It is performed in the later part of the evening. Invitation cards can be sent for this function, depending on how one wants to celebrate. The event is observed at the parental home of the child in the presence of close relatives, friends and well-wishers. All the guest and relatives bring gifts for the baby and the new mother. The child’s maternal grandparents give gifts to the child’s paternal relatives also.

On the first Lohri of a new-born baby, the mother attired in heavy clothes and wearing a lot of jewelery with mehndi on her hands and feet sits with the baby in her lap. The family does the presentations. The mother-in-law and father-in-law of course give a large quantity of presents in the form of clothes and cash and others do so according to their relationship with the couple as also their capability and desire. The maternal grandparents also send gifts of clothes, sweets, rayveri, peanuts, popcorns and fruits.

Celebration of Fertility

Lohri is a vibrant festival which marks the end of winter and signifies the harvesting of Rabi crops. People in Northern India eagerly wait for the season as it is the time to make harvesting celebrations with friends and family members. People especially in Punjab and Haryana celebrate this festival with full enthusiasm and energy. Farmers in Punjab evaluate the harvests and consider it as a symbol of renewal of life. Harvesting season also signifies period of plenty, peace and happiness. Celebration of Lohri also highlights importance of fertility in Indian families. Thus, Lohri is celebrated as a big day for all the newly wed and mothers of new born babies.

Importance of Lohri
Punjab is called the breadbasket of India. All major crops are grown here and that’s why harvesting season holds special importance for farmers of Punjab and Haryana. They happily bid farewell to the winters and get ready to cut and gather the crop. Rabi crops are the main source of wealth for the farmers and this makes them celebrate the time with full zeal and enthusiasm. Farmers call this period of time as golden harvest season. Thus, farmers show their happiness by perrforming traditional bhangra dance on the beats of dhol. They light bornfires and pray for good harvest in next season as well.

Significance of Fertility
Apart from celebrating the good harvest, there are more reasons which add joy to the festival. Lohri also celebrates fertility in Indian families. The first marriage or birth of the male child in the family calls for celebration at the time of Lohri.

Birth of a Baby
Celebration of fertility relates to the birth of a new born in a family. Thus, Lohri is the time to celebrate the birth by partying altogether. On this day, mother of the new-born is dressed in her best and sits with the baby on her lap. Members and relatives of the family shower their blessings on mother and her child. Gifts and cash is presented to the mother as a token of love. Later, everybody in the family shake their leg around the bonfire. Traditional songs are sung and other rituals are performed.

New Marriage in the Family
Lohri celebrates the marriage of couple in any Indian family. It is considered very important to celebrate first Lohri of a bride. It is said she is welcomed so merrily as she is the one who bears children and increase the family. The newly wed bride dress up in new clothes, wear beautiful ornaments and apply henna on her hands. Her husband also wears new clothes. They sit together to receive blessings of elders of the family. The day is completed with dance and singing of traditional folk songs and other songs wishing the newly wed peaceful life.

Exhibition of Exhuberance

Festivals in Punjab have always been celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. Punjab being a predominantly agriculture state that prides itself on its food grain production. Therefore, for the masses the festival of Lohri is a popular occasion for social get together and enjoyment. Lohri brings everyone in a celebrative mood and on this day one can get a glimpse of the vivacity of life in Punjab. Celebrated in January with bonfire and bhangra, Lohri ushers in the cheerful spring season bidding adieu to dull winters.

Bonfire Celebration
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. Gathering around the bonfire people sing and dance and friends and relatives exchange greetings. And it becomes part of the festival to throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the fire. A puja is performed beside the bonfire and the “Prasad” comprises of six main things : til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn is distributed. Children from door to door sings and ask for the Lohri prasad. 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 Celebration
Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of winter begins to taper off. In the olden days, it was more of a community festival, where the birth of a son, the first year of marriage was celebrated all through the village in front of the sacred fire. Songs like ‘Sunder mundriye, tera kaun vichara, Dulla Bhathi Wala are sung to the beat of claps. Groups of little children go singing round the village collecting ‘gur’ and ‘rewari’ for themselves. ‘Lohri’ is preceded by Maagh and the famous Maaghi Da Mela, where the Bhangra is danced by the men of the Village.

Lohri Dance
Bhangra is an energetic dance associated with the ripening of crops, performed by the menfolk of the villages. The dance manifests the vigor and vitality and exuberance of the people, in anticipation of money coming in after the cutting of a good harvest. During Lohri celebration, the drum plays a very important part. It provides the basic accompaniment to most of folk music. There are specific folk songs that is sung during the festival of Lohri.

Colorful Fairs
The vivacious Punjabi’s are very fond of fairs that is help to celebrate the festivity of Lohri. People from all communities come to participate in Lohri fairs from far-off places, trudging dusty distances. Men, women and children of all ages, classes and creeds flock in hundreds and enjoy the numerous fascinating features of the fair : races, singing, wrestling bouts, acrobatics etc. Wearing new clothes, both old and young come out in their multi-colored and smartest best.

Bonfire Celebration

Despite icy wind, the festive mood of Lohri is keep its warmth owing to its Bonfire celebration. It is an accepted fact that this festival is to worship fire. Lohri is not a religious festival, but a celebration marking the end of an intense winter and it also celebrates the sowing of the rabi crop. It celebrates the arrival of the new month and the new season and is a festival of happiness and anybody new in the family adds to it’s fervor.

Every year, Lohri falls on 13th January and right through the bitter winter day, men, women and children go around collecting dry twigs and branches to make a bonfire. The bigger the bonfire the better is Lohri celebration. Come evening and the bonfire is lighted with family and neighbors singing and dancing around it. The fire indicates the spark of life and prayers are sa
id for goodwill and abundant crops. People gather round the bonfire and say prayers, and this is usually followed by dancing.

Huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle 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. During the parikrama it is traditional to throw popcorn, til, peanuts and jaggery into the fire. These are healthy winter foods and til is also considered to be holy.

After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad (offerings made to god). The prasad comprises five main items: til, gajak, jaggery, peanuts, and popcorn. Winter savories are served around the bonfire with the traditional dinner of makki-ki-roti (multi-millet hand-rolled bread) and sarson-ka-saag (cooked mustard herbs).

Punjabi celebrate Lohri every year with great enthusiasm as it is a festival of joy and it also heralds spring. Also, sowing of a crop is always a reason to celebrate in Punjab, where the majority of the population is into agriculture. People enthusiastically participate in the dancing that is held around the bonfire. Bhangra dance by men begins after the offering to the bonfire. Dancing continues till late night with new groups joining in amid the beat of drums. Traditionally, women do not join Bhangra. They hold a separate bonfire in their courtyard orbiting it with the graceful Gidda dance.

Lohri Dances

Dances are one of the most fun loving aspect of Lohri celebration. Punjab is a land of exciting culture, myriad images of swaying emerald green fields and hearty people whose robust rustic dances that reflects unique camaraderie and bonhomie. Lohri dances are very much a part of the heritage of Punjab. Punjabi dance form is unique in sense that there is altogether different dance forms for male and female. While the male dances are the Bhangra, jhoomer, luddi, julli and dankara. the female one’s are Giddha and Kikli.

Bhangra and Giddha are the most popular form of dances performed by man and women on Lohri.

Lohri Fairs or Lohri Melas

On Lohri day, colorful fairs or melas are held in many of the villages of Punjab, Himachal and Haryana. These are basically seasonal fairs that celebrate the harvest for the fertility of fields. Lohri fairs are enchantingly picturesque with bustling market springing up, in which food and products of local handicrafts such as toys, glass bangles and an assortment of all kinds of articles for domestic use are on display.

People come to participate in Lohri Melas from far-off places, trudging dusty distances. Men women and children of all ages, classes and creeds flock in hundreds and enjoy the numerous fascinating features of the fair; races, wrestling bouts, singing, acrobatics, etc. They play on folk instruments, such as vanjli and algoza.

There is fun and frolic all round the place where the Lohri fair is organized. The old as well as the young enjoy these fairs to the fullest as these fairs reflects the joy of the community. People enjoy the day inspite of cold weather as they very well know that warmth is not far away. Lohri festival is not just an occasion for festivity and mass gathering but it is an unbounded expression of the spirit of the inner freedom, of creative pride, of zest for life, and of colorful traditions of the people of Punjab.

Lohri Melas in Towns
In big cities and towns Lohri Melas are organized before or after the festival to give people an opportunity to get together. Stalls of handicraft and other products besides those selling food are organized in these fairs. Bonfire, joyful competitions along with swings and games are other attractions of traditional Lohri Melas. On several occasions, Lohri Melas are graced by popular singers and dancers making them all the more enjoyable. Punjabis living outside India too organize Lohri Melas and enjoy the festival to the hil

Lohri Recipes

During the Lohri celebrations, people are very particular about what they eat thus making Lohri recipes very special. Marking the end of winter season, the occasion of Lohri is more than a festival, it is a way of life. Thus, during special occasions like the Lohri Festival, the best cuisine is displayed.

A traditional dinner is “mandatory”, including specific foods that will later be thrown into the bonfire, symbolizing the spark of life. Lohri, marked by the preparation of goodies is blessed in the sense that all the Lohri special recipes are easy to cook.

The festival of Lohri offer a great opportunity for people of Punjab to enjoy the traditional delicacies that are cooked using the traditional recipes. These traditional recipes have been passed on from generations to generations. These special recipes provide a great opportunity to discover and taste the delicacies of Indians. Everybody is allowed to forget about their health related problem and enjoy the food and sweets to the fullest.

Sweets are added attractions to the festive mood of Lohri and is well known for offering sweets that are a must eat during this period. A must eat because as one goes from home to home wishing people on this festival as it is considered a omen to offer sweets to the well wisher. This section of Lohri recipes are easy to cook and equally delicious to eat

Lohri is an extremely popular winter festival in India, especially North India. Lohri is usually celebrated in the outdoors by friends and family who get together and have a bonfire in the evening. Lohri signifies onset of intense winter in Punjab and surrounding areas. Cold weather is good for wheat hence farmers celebrate Lohri so that their crops lead to a good harvest.

During the day, child
ren go from door to door singing folk songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a thief in folklore who helps the poor and fights for their rights. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. These collections are known as Lohri, and they are distributed at night during the festival. Some may be offered to the sacred fire. Peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire as an offering to the God of Fire, Agni.

While Lohri is essentially a Punjabi festival, it is celebrated in some other states of North India as well. In cities like Delhi, which have a predominant Punjabi population, Lohri is celebrated to denote the last of the coldest days of winter. Apart from Punjab, people from other northern Indian states of Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, become busy making preparations for Lohri. Now-a-days, this festival is celebrated in all the parts of world wherever Punjabi people are living. In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. Punjabis usually have private Lohri celebrations, in their houses. Lohri rituals are performed, with the accompaniment of special Lohri songs. A bonfire is made and a prayer is performed to Agni, the god of Fire, and Prasad is distributed. The prasad comprises five main foods – til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Milk and water are also poured around the bonfire by Hindus. This ritual is performed for thanking the Sun God and seeking his continued protection.

Lohri songs

By the end of the first week of January, small groups of boys go ringing doorbells and chanting some kind of doggerel with each line ending in “ho”. Lohri songs are rhymed nonsense, at times very funny.For example:

Saalee paireen juttee
Jeevey Sahib dee kuttee
Kuttee no nikalya phoraa
Jeevey sahib da ghora
Ghorey uttay kaathee
Jeevey sahib da haathee
Haathee maarya padd
Dey maaee daanya da chajj

(My sister-in-law has slippers on her feet/ Long may live the Sahib’s bitch./ The bitch developed a sore/ Long live the Sahib’s horse./ The horse has a saddle/ Long live the Sahib’s elephant/ The elephant let out a loud fart/ It gave the old woman a start.)

Also every other Lohri song has words to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti(The ‘ho’s are in chorus):

Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicaharaa ho!
Dullah bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka ho!
Kudi da saalu paatta ho!
Salu kaun samete!
Chache choori kutti! zamidara lutti!
Zamindaar sudhaye!
bade bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari eet!
Sanoo de de lohri te teri jeeve jodi!(Cry or howl!)
Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pit!

Translation

Beautiful girl
Who will think about you
He is dulla bhatti Dulla’s daughter got married
He gave 1 kg sugar!
The girl is wearing a red suit!
But her shawl is torn!
Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori!
The landlords looted it!
Landlords are beaten up!
Lots of innocent boys came
One innocent boy got left behind
The police arrested him!
The policeman hit him with a brick!
Cry or howl!
Give us lohri ..long live your couple!
Whether you cry, or bang your head later!

Lohri Boys Songs

“Te ‘ho’s are in chorus
Sunder mundriye ho!

Tera kaun vicaharaa ho!
Dullah bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka ho!
Kudi da saalu paatta ho!
Salu kaun samete!
Chache choori kutti! zamidara lutti!
Zamindaar sudhaye!
bade bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee pakad ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari eet!
Sanoo de de lohri te teri jeeve jodi! (Cry or howl!)
Paheenve ro te phannve pit! ”

Translation
“The ‘ho’s are in chorus
Who do you have
The groom with the tandoor
The groom’s daughter got married
He gave 1 kg sugar!
The girl is wearing a red suit!
But her shawl is torn!
Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori!
The landlords ate it!
He made the landlords eat a lot!
Lots of innocent guys came
One innocent boy got left behind
The police arrested him!
The policeman hit him with a brick!
Cry or howl!
Give us lohri ..long live your jodi!”

Be Happy – Celebrate Lohri.


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