Lohri – an agricultural winter festival
Lohri is a fun filled festivity observed by the Punjabi community every year in the month of January for a good harvest that carries cultural and traditional significance. It is observed on the eve of the winter solstice based on the belief that the Lohri night is the longest night of the year. Numerous theories have been suggested pertaining to the derivation of the term ‘Lohri’. Many suggest that the festival derives its name from Loi, wife of Saint Kabir. Whereas, some believe the name ‘Lohri’ has been originated from the word ‘loh’, an iron pan used for preparing food.
Lohri festival best reflects the community’s love for festival and celebrations of exuberance. However, the celebration of Lohri is not only restricted within the state of Punjab but also are observed enthusiastically throughout Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Himachal Pradesh. According to the Hindu calendar, the Lohri 2014 will be observed on Monday, January 13.
The Lohri festival is marked by a range of traditional exciting activities such as lighting the ritualistic bonfire during the evening, dancing on the beats of the dhol, traditional handmade dishes, singing popular folklore around the bonfire and enjoying sumptuous feast. The folklores is also an integral part of Lohri which is all about expressing gratitude to the good harvest season and the natural elements such as water, wind and fire. On this day, people remember Dulha Bhatti – a famous legendary hero who helped the poor by robbing the rich, by singing folklores.
Lighting the bonfire in Lohri symbolizes offering prayers to Lord Agni (god of fire) to shower blessing on the land with abundance of crops and prosperity. The Lohri feast includes popular traditional feast such as makki-di-roti and sarson-da-saag.
For children, Lohri is the time of amusement and excitement. Early morning they visit houses within their neighbourhood to collect the Lohri ‘loot’ that usually includes traditional sweets, snacks (gajak, rewri, til, moongphali and jaggery) and money.
Significance of Lohri is no more restricted to celebration only but also implies a wonderful time for people in the community to rejoice and rejuvenate themselves from their chore and unite to share some fun and relive the cultural values. People exchange Lohri wishes to spread and celebrates the spirit of festivity.
On the occasion many people send personalised Lohri greetings and fancy Lohri gifts to their dear ones. The fascinating Lohri messages and lovely Lohri SMS are also popular as unique ideas to send warm ‘Happy Lorhi’ and mark the occasion as special.