Lohri – Harvest Festival of Punjab and Haryana also referred as the bonfire festival. Huge bonfires are lit to thanks the God for abundant crops.
WHEN IS LOHRI CELEBRATED?
Lohri – Harvest Festival is celebrated on 13th of January during the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. This festival marks the departure of the winter season and onset of spring.
This festival is celebrated across the country as the harvest festival under different names like Pongal– in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
WHY IS LOHRI CELEBRATED?
Lohri – Harvest Festival is considered as a resting period for farmers before the cutting and gathering of their crops. Farmers sow Rabi or winter crop (the main crop of Punjab) in October and harvest them in April.
It is in January when the fields are full, and the crop is at full height, farmers thank god for their excellent harvest season and prized crops and celebrate Lohri by singing their traditional folk songs and dances.
HOW IS LOHRI CELEBRATED?
Lohri – Harvest Festival is a merry-making festival where people relax, sing and rejoice. The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. People gather logs of wood and light flames of bonfire on their front porches thanking fire god for their golden crops before harvesting them.
At night there is puja, involving parikrama around the fire followed by distribution of prasad. People say prayers and shout “Aadar aye dilather jaye” (May honor come and poverty vanish from everyone’s life!).
‘Prasad”’comprises of six main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya, and popcorn is distributed. The tradition is to throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the fire and thank god for abundant crops, prosperity and a good harvest season.
Traditional dinner with Makki ki roti and Sarson ka saag are quintessential.
Children go from door to door singing praises for Dulha Bhatti and asking for the Lohri prasad. Family and friend exchange greetings and gifts on this happy occasion.
This is mainly a happy occasion for newlyweds and a newborn baby. Parents give gifts to their newly married daughters and send sweets to their friends and relatives. Let’s learn about the story behind – Lohri – Harvest Festival.
STORY OF DULLA BHATTI
On this day praises are sung in honor of Dulla Bhatti/dulha Bhatti – the heroic son of Punjab. As the legend goes, Dulla Bhatti was a hero who led a rebellion during Mughal rule against King Akbar.
Dulla and his bandits used to loot the riches and distribute the loot among the poor. This act of kindness made him a robin-hood among people, and some say that Dulla Bhatti’s acts of generosity inspire the tradition of giving and exchanging gifts during Lohri.
Another legend related to Dulla Bhatti says that he protected young girls from Mughal soldiers and rich zamindars. Later arranged marriages for these saved young girls and since there was no priest to chant hymns or mantras for their wedding, he lit up the bonfire and the bride, and the groom took pheras around this bonfire and sang praises in his name.