Lohri Festival - watsupptoday.com
Lohri Festival
Posted 11 Jan 2020 05:36 PM

Source: Watsupptoday

Like most other festivals in India, Lohri is also related to the agricultural activities of the farmers. It marks the harvesting season in Punjab and the end of the winter season. Lohri usually falls on the last day of the month of Paush, a day is known as Makar Sankranti in most parts of the country. According to the English calendar, Lohri falls on 13th January every year.

Preparation to celebrate Lohri begins way before the actual festival day. Right through the winter days, village women and children collect dry twigs and branches to make a huge bonfire on the day of Lohri-the bigger the better.
On the day of the festival, with the setting of the sun, the bonfire is lit with people singing and dancing to the tune of Lohri songs.

The munching of seasonal goodies like popcorn, reori, peanuts and sugar cane forms an integral part of the celebration. Fistfuls of these goodies also find their way into the fire, as an offering to the Sun God, the giver of all life.

Interestingly, the next day of Lohri is known as Maghi, a day that signifies the beginning of the month of Magh.

According to common belief, this is an auspicious day to take a holy dip and give away charity. Kheer is prepared in sugar cane juice to mark the day.

Lohri Legends

Like all Indian festivals, Lohri also has some legends and lore attached to it.

One of the many interesting legends has it that in a place that lies between Gujranwala and Sialkot, there was a thick forest known as Rakh.

The forest was the home of Dulla Bhatti, a dacoit who was considered as the Robin Hood of Punjab.

This brave and generous man was always helpful to the needy.

During the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, a jealous Hindu spread a rumor that his niece was very beautiful and would do credit to the Muslim harem.

On hearing this, the Mughal officers wanted to carry her off forcibly. The girl’s father was extremely worried and sought the protection of Dulla Bhatti.

Dulla at once got her married to a young Hindu boy at a simple ceremony in the forest. He lit the sacred fire in keeping with the Hindu custom.

Since there was no priest to chant the holy mantras, he broke into a hilarious song composed extempore to add cheer to the occasion. This song is sung even today on the occasion.

Lohri Celebration
The best way of celebrations in this chilly weather could be to sit around a bonfire and enjoy it. Well, Lohri Celebrations would be the best festival to celebrate and spread the warmth of love and happiness among all your near and dear ones in this chilly weather. Lohri is majorly celebrated in Punjab and north Indian states on 13th January and is considered to be the harvesting festival of Punjab.

India is the "Land of Celebration and Festivities". According to Hindu mythology, there are 3.3 million gods and goddesses. Lohri is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated to honour Agni (the Vedic god of fire) at the beginning of the year. Every year, on 13th of January (as per the Gregorian calendar), Lohri is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur mainly in Punjab, Haryana, parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu. Amidst the freezing temperature accompanied by dense fog and icy winds, North Indians seem to be getting busy with preparations for enjoying the long-awaited bonfire festival “Lohri” with traditional folk songs and dances.

What is the history of Lohri?

Religious Fact: As per the Hindu calendar, in the mid-January, the earth starts its journey towards the sun bringing end to Paush, the coldest month of the year. According to the Shrimad Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna manifests his full divinity during the period of Lohri. A day later, the auspicious Makara Sankranthi held which marks the end of the winter season. Thousands of Hindus bathe in the Ganges to nullify their sins.

Social Fact: Wheat is the main winter crop in the northern parts of India. This winter (rabi) crop is sown in the months of October and harvested in March or April. Farmers and their families celebrate Lohri during January (rest period) before the cutting of crops. Thus, Punjabis and Haryanavis celebrate Lohri as the “harvest festival”. Most farmers from rural Punjab consider the day after Lohri as the starting of new financial year. The Sindhi community popularly call Lohri as “Lal love”. On a festive day, children request their grandparents and aunties for wood sticks which are burnt in the bonfire.

How is Lohri celebrated?

Lohri Loot: On the morning of Lohri, enthusiastic children dressed in new clothes arrive at the neighbourhood doors singing praise songs on Dulha Bhatti (a legendary Punjabi rebellion alike Robin Hood who led protests against the powerful Mughal emperor Akbar) and asking for generous Lohri ‘loot’ in the form of money and delicacies such as sesame seeds (til) ladoos, peanuts, jaggery, and traditional sweetmeats like rewrite, gajak etc.

Bonfire Ritual: Lohri marks the end of the chilly winter. In the evening, after the sunset, huge logs of woods are gathered and lit in the harvested fields. True-spirited, fun-loving men and women circle around the rising flames, do parikrama (rotate around the bonfire) thrice and toss puffed rice, peanuts, and sweets into the fire, uttering “Aadar aye dilhater Jaye (May prosperity arrive and poverty fade away!)”. After praying to the fire god (Agni), people meet their relatives and friends to exchange greetings and prasad (offerings made to the fire god). Hindus pour milk and water around the bonfire. This ritual is performed to honour the Sun God for his warm protection. Traditionally, the offering comprises of five main eateries: roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, gajak, popcorn, and peanuts. Then, sturdy, hearty men beat the dhol (traditional drum) announcing the starting of the festivity. Both energetic men and women dressed in colourful ethnic attire perform Giddha and Bhangra (popular folk dances) circling the bonfire.

Welcoming Party: Many wealthy families arrange for private Lohri celebrations in their houses. Several rituals are performed to rejoice the birth of a baby or the arrival of a new bride.

Dining Feast: Lohri harvest ceremony ends with scrumptious dinner. After merry-making throughout the day, everyone looked forward to the traditional banquet comprising of makki di roti (hand rolled bread made of millet), sarson da saag (cooked mustard greens), and rau di kheer (a dessert made of rice and sugarcane juice).

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