There are many religions around the globe. Each of those religions has specific festivals related to their history. The first festival that is celebrated by Hindus at the beginning of the year is Lohri.it is the most popular festival in India. It is observed to celebrate the harvest of Rabi crops at the end of the winter solstice. Happy Lohri festival is celebrated on the 13th of January with full dedication and enthusiasm.
Lohri festival is mostly about great food, dancing, and singing around a bonfire, and exchanging food baskets or sweets among one another. People get together and enjoy this day to the fullest. However, it does hold an important and deeper meaning. The reason why people celebrate it is to pay thanks to their Lord almighty and praise the deity.
Individuals are full of passion and gratitude, hence they dance on the beats of drums and enjoy delicious feasts. This festival basically emerged from Punjab and is mainly commemorated in places of Northern India like Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
It is also known by other names in other regions of the country such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, and Tai Pongal in Kerala.
As a harvest ritual, people fed Black sesame seeds, jaggery, peanuts, and gajak to the fire. This day is observed on the shortest day and the longest night of the year. As a matter of fact, this day marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring season. It marks the end of the sowing season and inception of the farming season.
This festival is also referred to as the Harvest festival. People are thankful to God for Harvesting the Rabi crops and throughout the day they dance, sing folk songs with zeal, and share delectables. After the singing and dancing ritual, the dinner is served. Foods like mustard leaves, sesame, whole wheat, and spinach are a vital part of the Lohri festival. Locals also give happy Lohri wishes to each other and hope to be blessed with happiness and prosperity.
Meaning of the Word Lohri
The word Lohri is derived from Tilohri. Til means sesame and rorhi mean jaggery or gur. This makes up the name Lohri. People eventually referred to the festival just by using the word Lohri. According to their beliefs, it is said that both these food ingredients purify the body and bring new power for the new year. That is why they also offer these ingredients i.e til chikki, puffed rice, popcorns, jaggery, and gajak to the fire which symbolizes Agni, the god of fire.
They believe by offering these items in sparkling flames, they impress their Gods. Hence, they afterward seek blessings and pray for themselves and their family. They keep throwing the ingredient to make the fire bigger because the bigger the fire, the more blessings will come to them. They hope that they spent a happy lohri all together with one another.
Significance of the Rituals
Lohri is celebrated the night before the big festival, Makar Sankranti. Both Hindus and Sikhs communities honor the Sun God and winter harvest season. All farms pay their gratitude and Lohri wishes and then seek blessings from the almighty.
As per their tradition, the flames of the fire carry to their God of Sun. He then grants their wishes and makes the next day bright and sunny and puts an end to the gloomy chilly winters. People are hopeful that bright good days await them.
Many people consider this day more blessed for newly married couples or people who are endowed with newborns. They believe all the Evils come to an end and blessings are all around them. Families conduct prayers and through that, they infuse purity in their households.
Moreover, nowadays many people who use the internet search for happy lohri wishes and send them to their beloved ones.
The history behind this festival is associated with a man named Dulha Bhatti. He is also regarded as Robinhood. He is the legendary figure and hero of this festival. Bhatti was a thief who used to help the poor community and fought for their rights in the Reign of Emperor Akbar.
He used to loot the wealthy imperial officers and then disturb the obtained money among the needy people. He was a glorious figure for the poor. He gained immense popularity among the poor tribal areas. He is also regarded as a father figure for the woeful and oppressed. He came to be a living epitome of the chivalrous and socio-cultural personality of the entire nation.
Moreover, it is believed that he saved the prestige of an innocent girl whose modesty was abducted by a wealthy landlord. She was supposed to become a slave. But Dullah saved this girl, adopted her, and later arranged her marriage to a boy. As there was no priest available and sang the Vedic hymns, Dullah himself, Lit a fire, and sang some verses by himself. The verses were:
Sunder Mundriye Tera Kaun Vichara
Dullah Bhatti Wala Ho
Dullaeh Di Teeh Viahi Ho
Ser Shakar Payi
The groom and bride took phera around the bonfire while these funny verses were being chanted and tied the knot in marriage. Till date, people and children sing this hilarious song with full energy and enjoy themselves. This song is known as Lohri Song. Without this song, the festival would seem desolate. To make it a happy Lohri, songs are a must.
Unusual Trick or Treat Tradition
Ten to fifteen days before Lohri Day, a number of teenage young girls and boys roam around the area and collect logs of wood for the Lohri bonfire. They also collect grains, Gur. Later, they sell it and disturb the money among one another.
Another unique and strange activity is observed by boys. One of the boys is selected to smear his face with ashes and a rope is tied around his waist. This boy is supposed to act as a deterrent for people who refuse to give them Lohri items.
Then this group of boys go house to house, singing Lohri wishes or songs and asking for the ingredients. If a family refuses, they give them an ultimatum to give them and slightly loosen the room. If they don’t receive anything, then the rope is loosened entire and the smears boy tries to enter the house and smashes the clay pots or clay stove present in the house
This day holds immense importance to the Hindi and Sikh community. They observe this day with full zeal and enthusiasm. They are filled with passion and take part in every ritual and activity. All of the people also love uttering Lohri’s wishes to each other.
This day is mainly for farms and agriculturists. They hope that the next harvest season will bring more blessings and the crops will fulfill their house with prosperity. They pay tribute to the God Of sun, Surya, and pray to him. They believed that the god will bring warmth and health to the earth and help their crops to grow. The entire land is blessed by the mercy of The god of the sun and the chilly gloomy cold days come to an end.