Lohri festival is one of the most important festivals of North India celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus. However, the Lohri celebration is a bit different from the other festivals in terms of celebration. Contrary to other festivals, people do not go to each other’s homes, rather they all gather at one place and light a bonfire. Moreover, Lohri is a festival of happiness and brings people together. People pray to the Sun God, and the fire, and seek blessings.
Lohri Festival Celebration
The Lohri festival is celebrated as a festival of harvesting. Lohri celebration signifies the commencement of the harvesting season in North India. Basically, the Lohri celebration takes place in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi as well as in some parts of Himachal Pradesh. Lohri, a famous festival in North India has different names and forms of celebration in different states. Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Bihu in Assam, and Tai Pongal in Kerala are all different festivals that we celebrate around Lohri.
Though the origin of the Lohri festival has association with a plethora of tales, here is a popular one. The beginning of the Lohri celebration can be followed back to the story of Dulla Bhatti. Dulla Bhatti was a well-known incredible saint of Punjab who drove a resistance to Mughal ruler Akbar. He became to be known as the ‘Robin Hood’ of Punjab, as he would steal from the rich and then offer to the poor. Moreover, he would rescue women who have been kidnapped to be bought in the slave markets. Amongst those rescued women were Sundri and Mundri, who is till now related to Punjab’s folklore:
Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Lohri in North-India
Children roaming around the streets chanting these lines, people gathered around the bonfire, singing and dancing their hearts out. Lohri marks the ending of the winter and the beginning of the spring. Crowds collect in a large circle, teaming bonfires and have a good time. Along with, offer prayers to the Gods for a wholesome harvest which has introduced prosperity to the families. People dance sing songs, throw popcorns, puffed rice, gajak etc. into the fire celebrating the end of the winter cycle. Rabi crops are ready for harvest as farmers sit up for a brand new season. Moreover, as the winter solstice gets over, the days get longer and the nights get shorter. People thank the sun for providing them relief in the chilling days.
Children wander from one house to another asking for a Lohri loot and while standing at the gate, they sing:
“Dabba bharaya leera da, ai ghar ae ameera da”
This translates to a box full of clothes strips, this house is of the rich!
And for those who don’t give the children anything, they sing:
“Hukka bhai Hukkaa, ai ghar bhukka”
Which translates to Hukka! Oh! Hukka! This house is full of misers!
In Hinduism and Sikhism, the first Lohri is considered to be very auspicious for a brand new bride and a newborn baby. Lohri festival significance is that it symbolizes fertility and its celebration dedicates to fire and the Sun God. People do parikrama around the sacred fire and seek its blessings. According to a belief, the Lohri fire fulfils people’s wishes so people consider it sacred. They pray to Agni Dev to fulfil their desires and give them a rich yield.
Fire is the representative of the sun so it has a connection with rays of light and gold. People believe that fire has the capability to incite the growth of crops and the welfare of humans and animals. Lohri fire is holy and gets worshipped like a deity because it is a persona of energy and spiritual strength. Moreover, fire plays a crucial role in agriculture, hence it is also worshipped.