One minute read. Written by Aria Saxena, a grade 8 student
Every year on January 13th we celebrate the festival of Lohri. We light a bonfire, sing songs and offer prasad to the fire – like peanuts, gajjaks, popcorn etc. It is said that we throw in all these things into the fire because we are actually disposing off all our bad habits, wrong behaviour and unpleasant human nature into the fire, burning them to ashes so that we start a brand new, positive year, with new beliefs.
What is Lohri?
Lohri is a Punjabi folk festival and is celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus from Punjab as well as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu. It celebrates the harvesting of the winter crops. For people of Punjab, Lohri actually marks the end of peak winter and the beginning of a new harvest season. The festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice (when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun). Winter solstice is also the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year.
According to traditions, on this day, people would light communal bonfires and sing traditional folk songs and dance in their yards after the weeks of the Rabi season harvesting work. It is when families get together and there is a spirit of brotherhood and gratitude which leads to a lot of happiness and cheer. It is also a great time for children, who go from door to door singing folk songs. These children are given sweets and savouries, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.
The legend of Dulla Bhatti – who was he and what’s he got to do with Lohri?
At Lohri celebrations people sing
traditional folk songs, one of which is the song praise of Dulla Bhatti. He was
the legendary Rajput hero of Punjab, who was popularly called the
“Son of Punjab” or “Robin Hood of Punjab”. He led a revolt against the Mughal rule at the time of Emperor Akbar. Songs of his bravery were sung by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike.
According to Punjabi folk tradition, Dulla Bhatti rescued two Brahmin girls, Sundri and Mundri, from Akbar, who wanted them in his harem. Not only did he save them from being sold, but he also became their godfather and, it is said that he married them off on Lohri with much pomp and glory. This is why Lohri is an auspicious occasion for newly married couples.