Lohri is the harvest festival of Punjab. Read about the Lohri celebrations and customs and traditions. Find out about origin of Lohri and history of Lohri festival. Lohri is an important festival for Punjabis and is celebrated by lighting a bon-fire and singing and dancing around it. The songs are sung in praise of Dulha Batti.
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 splendour.
History of Lohri
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.
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.
How Lohri Got its Name
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.
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 fervour 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 First Lohri
Lohri is great importance for newly weds and newborn babies.
First Lohri of a New Bride
The newly married women wear bangles, new clothes, wear a colourful bindi, apply mehendi on their hands and try to look their best. The husband also dresses up and wears new clothes and a colourful turban. The bride's in-laws gift her with new clothes and beautiful jewellery.
A grand celebration is arranged for the newly wed couple where a lot of guests are invited. The bride is made to sit along with her husband and the parents-in-law gift her clothes and jewellery during this ceremony. Other guests like family, neighbours and friends also come and present clothes or cash to the newly wed. The couple also seeks blessings of the elders on this day.
First Lohri of a New Born Baby
The first Lohri of a new born baby is also considered to be an important occasion. The new mother sits decked up in heavy clothes, a lot of jewellery and with mehendi applied on her hands. She sits with the baby in her hands and the family and close ones gift her with clothes or cash. The baby's maternal grandparents also send gifts of clothes, fruits, sweets, peanuts, etc.
Lohri in Today's time
Nowadays, people are combining Lohri celebration with a bit of modernization. Instead of gifting the traditional gajaks and til (sesame), people gift chocolate cakes with til and chocolate gajaks. People are also growing more conscious about environment protection and preservation during Lohri. As cutting of trees for the wood is required to light bon-fire during Lohri, some students and people compensate for the same. They try to plant new trees and saplings to compensate for the trees which have been cut.