New Delhi: Lohri, one of the most popular festivals in Punjab, is just around the corner and will fall on the 13th of January this year. Celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus, the festival marks the end of the winter solstice and harvesting of the rabi crops.
Another reason that the festival is important for Sikhs is because Punjabi farmers consider the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial new year, which holds immense importance to the Sikh community. Well, not just Punjab, the festival is celebrated in Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh as well.
The festival falls a day before another famous festival Makar Sankranti and also coincides with the festival of Bhogali Bihu of Assam and Pongal which is celebrated by Tamilians.
History and Significance
For people of Punjab, the festival of Lohri holds a great significance as it marks the beginning of the harvest season of Rabi crops in state and the end of winter. It is also celebrated to pay homage to the Surya (Sun God) for gracing all with his presence and for the bumper harvest.
There are several legends as to why the festival was named Lohri. Some say, it symbolizes warmth and fire while some say the festival was named after Loi, the name of saint Kabir’s wife.
Another reason for celebrating Lohri was a hero, Dulla Batti, who is considered to be the Robin Hood of Punjab. He saved the lives of several young girls, who were enslaved and sold by the Mughals and rescued them.
According to some beliefs, Lohri was considered to be Holika’s sister who survived with Prahlad, while Holika got burnt in the fire.
Festivities include thanking the sun god, Surya for the abundant harvests for the previous year along with requesting mother nature to be kind, the following year. People across the country celebrate the occasion by organizing a huge bonfire for a get together.
Friends and family enjoy feasts and sing folk songs and dance bhangra around the fire as they make offerings of jaggery, sesame, peanuts, puffed rice and popcorn to the fire as well. Gajak, Sarson ka Saag and Makke Di Roti are some of the preparations made specially for the festival. Apart from this, kite flying on Lohri is popular in Punjab.
Here is wishing everyone a very happy Lohri!