RTIwala Explains: Most of us have only heard about Lohri but only a few know about the gaiety and glory that the festival entails. How many of us really know about the origin, euphoria and the very significance of the Lohri festival?
What is Lohri? How is it celebrated?
Lohri is popularly celebrated by the Punjabis in India mainly the states of Haryana, Punjab and some parts of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. This festival falls on the 13th day of January not marking only the end of winter season but also signifying the beginning of a new farming season. The basic rituals performed include thanking Surya (sun god) for the abundant harvest of the previous year and requesting Mother Nature to be kind the following year. The festival symbolizes warmth and fire.
The fire is set up with wood and cow dung cakes, as it represents Lord Agni at night. The celebrants offer their treat, and then distribute the ‘Prasad’ and take part in the songs and ‘gidda sessions’ that break out all around the grand fire.
How Lohri came into existence and why it is celebrated?
Initially, Lohri used to be celebrated in the month of December 21st or 22nd marking the longest night and shortest day of the year but eventually, it ended up celebrating in the mid-January. One of the most important reasons for celebrating is, Lohri was a hero, named Dulla Batti. He was considered to be the Robinhood of Punjab. He saved the lives of many young girls who worked as slaves for the Mughals and were sold by them. His heroic acts are mentioned and honored during Lohri bonfire.
Lohri is also very known for its food that we all love so much from Gajak to Rewari, Black Sesame Seeds, peanuts, and popcorns. It is believed that the food is offered to the fire that symbolizes Lord Agni to please the god and seeks his blessings for a prosperous year ahead. Feeding the fire with all snacks also signifies that it takes away all the negative energies and brings good luck. Men and women wear traditional clothes and dance around the bonfire. People also fly kites on this day, it is enjoyed by all ages. The festival has its great value for harvesting, an auspicious moment for the newly married couples or a newborn.
Lohri and its Societal Importance
Lohri is celebrated by the Sikh and Hindu people, mainly in the North & Central regions of India. It is a festival that spreads joy and enthusiasm. With tempting ‘makke di roti’ and ‘sarson da saag,’ we have such a delightful beginning of the New Year. Finally, it is a festival that bids an official goodbye to the winter season and welcomes to the arrival of spring.