Lohri is a bonfire festival celebrated mainly in the states of Punjab, Haryana and partial Himachal Pradesh amidst the freezing cold of winter.
Many people believe that Lohri is a festival which celebrates the passing away of the winter solstice. Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year and Lohri was celebrated on this day.
The Punjabi farmers celebrated the day next to Lohri as the beginning of the financial New Year. According to Hindu calendar, Lohri falls in the middle of January. In 2019, Lohri will be celebrated on the January 13th
- Significance of Lohri
Lohri is celebrated at the end of the Poh month or Pousha, signifying an end to the freezing end of the cold weather. This festival announces the start of the month of Magh, when the Sun is in the path of Uttarayana. This is the time when Lord Vishnu manifests himself and to get his grace; people take ritual bath early in the morning. Also, Punjab, Haryana and the best is significantly known as the Bread Basket of India for its harvests. Thus the farmers celebrate this festival during their resting phase before the frenzy of cutting and gathering of the harvests has to be done.
- Customs of Lohri
In various places of Punjab, Haryana etc young boys go around collecting wood for the bonfire on the Lohri night. There are places from where they collect wheat and jaggery too, to sell them and create a fund. They also sing Lohri songs and ask every householder to give them logs or give them the wheat or jaggery. Then in the morning of the Lohri too, children go from neighbor to neighbor asking them for Lohri loot; which contains money and edible things like peanuts, gajak, tils etc. the Lohri celebration of a new bride and a newly born child is special and considered to be important.
There is also the tradition of Dulla Bhatti too. Dhulla Bhatti is a Punjabi legendary hero who used to rob the rich and donate to the poor. He also used to rescue poor Punjabi girls. The girls would be traded in the Middle Eastern market. This happened during the times of the reign of Akbar, the Mughal emperor. Dhulla Bhatti arranged marriages with these boys and also gave them some dowries. Amongst the tales of these 2 sisters are famous. They were known as Sundri and Mundhri.
- The Bonfire
Regarding the bonfire there are 2 distinct trends. In some places a Lohri Goddess, who is associated with spring is created using cow dung and later the fire is lit underneath it chanting the name of the Lohri Goddess. Then there are some places where the Lohri Goddess finds no mention and Lohri becomes a normal bonfire harvest festival.
The bonfire arranged with logs and cow dung is prepared in the main square of the village. It is lit as soon as the sun is set. People sit around it aor perform variety of things, like sing, dance etc. this is also a worship of the fire god. People are offered gachchak. Gur or jaggery. Moonphali or peanuts phuliya or popcorn etc. milk and water is generally poured around the bonfire to thank Sun God and seek his blessings for continuous benevolence.
The Kite flying is also quite popular during the day of Lohri.
- Celebrations of Lohri
Lohri is also observed as Lal Lohi by the Sindhis and is observed them of that. Houses where childbirth or marriage had taken place just before Lohri appears the most frenzied. Singing and dancing apart, the women wear the brightest of colored clothes and perform and participate in dance forms of Bhangra and Gidda along with the pulsating rhythm of the dhol. Usually for dinner the Punjabi favorites of sarson ka Saag and Makki ki roti is served. It is mostly a celebration and a festival of Thanks giving and getting together with family and friends. It is a festival celebrating the bonding of family and friends.
- Celebration in various parts of India
In other parts of India, this festivity is known as Pongal or Makar Sankranti. Makar sankranti is celebrated in the northern part of India and Southern part of India celebrated Pongal Sankranti. The Ganga Sagar is considered auspicious and the bathing more so during the Makar sankranti and the Pongol Sankranti continues for three days.