Lohri Festival in India

To commence with, it’s a carnival that doesn’t play fancy games with us like other Indian festivities, where one confused calendar or the other decides which day the festival will be jubilated A, Lohri–a Punjabi festival–is celebrated on January 13 each year.Though traditional dogma has it that Lohri is proclaimed to mark the passing of peak winter, this celebration is traditionally connected with the yield of the Rabi crops. The usual time to collect sugarcane crops is January, hence, Lohri is seen by some to be a harvest festival. And thus, Punjabi farmers perceive the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial New Year. A few days before the gala, youth get together in groups and go round their neighborhoods singing folk songs.

Doing this they also accumulate firewood and money for the bonfire that is scheduled on the evening of Lohri. Rewri and groundnuts are the sweet couples that amplify the grandness of Lohri. As anyone who has ever rejoiced the festival in full fervency around the bonfire would describe you–Gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are the three edibles connected with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a custom to eat gajjak, sarson da Saag and Makki di roti on the festival of Lohri. It is also acceptable to eat ’til rice’s-sweet rice made with jaggery (Gur) and sesame seeds.

The reasoning behind eating these food items is–the usual time to sow sugar cane is January to March, and the harvesting period is in December and March. The other major food item of Lohri is radish, which can be harvested between October and January. The men and women go round the fire and bow before it in respect. Lohri carries special weight when there is a special occasion in the house like marriage or childbirth. Lohri festivities are characterized by folkloric songs and dances. People wear up beautifully on the long-awaited bonfire celebration. Lohri asks for family get-togethers and sumptuous dinners including Sarson ka saag & Makki ki roti. The day ends with prayers for a good harvest.

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

One of the many interesting legends has it that in a place that lies among Gujranwala and Sialkot, there was a dense forest known as Rakh. The forest was the residence of Dulla Bhatti, a Gangster who was considered as the Robin Hood of Punjab. This courageous and charitable man was always helpful to the needy. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, a skeptical Hindu spread a rumor that his niece was very beautiful and would do credence to the Muslim harem. On hearing this, the Mughal officers ached to carry her off coercively. The girl’s father was greatly worried and solicited the protection of Dulla Bhatti.

Dulla at once got her wedded to a young Hindu boy at a simple commemoration in the forest. He lit the sacred fire in keeping with the Hindu tradition. Since there was no Reverend to intone the holy mantras, he broke into an entertaining song composed extempore to add cheer to the event. This song is chanted even today on the occasion.

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