This week million of North Indians celebrated the beautiful holiday of Lohri. Lohri is a holiday that dates back to the ancient Indus Valley civilizations with many stories about its origin. The joyful holiday is celebrated through Bollywood films often but what do we really know about Lohri? Are these films accurately depicting the celebration?
Well fikaar not my friends I’ve brought you all a dummies guide to Lohri!
- Lohri is a harvest festival that is meant to mark the end of winter and start of spring. Traditionally bonfires are lit with folk songs and dances in the evening like bhangra and giddas.
- Farmers relate the festival with harvesting of crops like rabi and by gifting sweets or money to the poor folks, they pray that the upcoming season will bring prosperity to their lives.
- Mainly a Punjabi holiday, Lohri can also be seen in Haryana, Delhi and parts of Himachal Pradesh.
- Lohri coincides of the holiday Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Magha Bihu in Assam and Tai Pongal in Kerala.
- A new bride’s first Lohri celebration is considered a special occasion marked with gifts and blessings for the new couple.
- The word Lohri itself has various origin stories. Some believe that the festival got its title from the wife of Sant Kabir, who was called Loi. Whereas, some stories state that the name of this festival was developed from combining til and rohri which are considered as an important part of the sweet dishes on this day. According to the Hindu mythology, Lohri was the sister of Holika who survived with Parladh. The word Lohri is also believed to have an origin from the word regional word ‘loh’ which means warmth and light of fire.
- The origin of the festival Lohri can vary but one story centers around a Rajput tribe called Bhatti during the reign of Akbar in Rajastan, Punjab and Gujrat. Apparently the Raja of Pindi Bhattian, Dulla Bhatti, was a Robin Hood type figure, taking for the rich and giving to the poor and the Mughal king sentenced him to death for revolting. Dulla Bhatti was loved and respected by his community, there is even a story that he adopted a girl he rescued from kidnappers. It is Dulla Bhatti who is remembered during this festival and children go door to door singing the Dulla Bhatti song: Dulla Bhatti ho! Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho! Ser shaker pai ho! (Dulla gave his daughter a kilo of sugar as a marriage gift).
- Another origin story is that the holiday is dedicated to the sun God. Lohri is associated with the concept of life and health in the Hindu religion. During this time the sun transits from the zodiac sign Capricorn and moves north. This new configuration lessens the impact of winter, ushering in the summer. The bonfire is also lit to ward off the cold winds and welcome the warmth of spring. This is the reason why the bonfire is worshiped and venerated as a deity because it is an image of energy and spiritual strength. People believe that the fire is capable of stimulating the growth of cornfields and the well-being of man and animals.
- People appease the fire by offering peanuts, popcorn, and sweets.
Hope you all enjoyed your Lohri!