The harvest festival, a celebration of fertility, welcoming the spring with its bountiful gifts and being thankful for all of natures blessings, all these make Lohri the Indian thanksgiving festival.
Lohri is synonymous with Uttarayan, Pongal, Bihu and Sankranti – all celebrating harvest and Mother Nature all over India. Maghi – the day after Lohri day is important as it’s the beginning of the month of Magh and month with 30 days coincides with January – February of the Western/Georgian/Julian Calendar from 13 January till 11 February. On this day it is said that a cleansing, holy bath should be taken symbolizing the washing of our bad Karma and Ego and to meditate so greed and desires leave us.
The festival is very important for the farmers and the villages all over celebrate by welcoming the spring and praying and thanking Gods for a bumper harvest. The bonfire is used to roast the fresh Chholiya or Green Gram in its pods with the leaves and stem and enjoy the roasted gram as the first fruits of labour. It is significant of the plentiful harvest and thanking Mother Nature for her blessings. Lohri is also a time to relax and reenergize as the farmers take a break from all the hard work during the sowing of the crop and time for a little rest before the super busy harvest season.
The festival of Lohri is associated with Dulla Bhatti – robber akin to Robin Hood, who lived in the times of King Akbar. He used to rob the rich people and distribute the spoils to the poor. He also saved the girls who were kidnapped for slave trade and got them married to decent families and arranged for their dowries. As special thanks are given to him and most songs of Lohri are associated with thanking him for his good deeds.
The evening brings around the time for the Big Bonfire to be lit and start the festivities. The bonfire is symbolic of Agni and prayers for its blessing and the elders offer prayers to the fire, the young newly married couples and parents of new born children take a Prakrima/Round of the fire before taking blessings of the elders. The traditional Prasad of Phooliya/popcorn, Gajak - Gur/Jaggery sweets, Moongphali/peanuts, Til/Sesame seeds are offered to the fire and distributed to all. It is believed that when one offers the peanuts, rewardi, gajak and popcorn to the fire, one must make a wish and it gets fulfilled. The evening progresses with the traditional songs and poems of Lohri along with the dances of Bhangra and Gidda.
The evening meal or dinner also cooked for the festival is significant as the items on the menu are fresh from the fields. The meal of Makki ki roti/corn chappatis, Sarson da Saag/stew of greens along with Maa ki Dal/ black gram pulses and Paneer/cottage cheese are all the best foods of the winter season. Lohri is like a final feast to bid goodbye to the cold winter, a festivity welcoming the arrival of spring.
पंजाब में कैसे गाई जाती है लोहड़ी और क्या क्या होता है, हिंदी में पढ़ें, क्लिक करें