Lohri, which falls on January 13 every year according to the Gregorian calendar, also known as the month of Paush, is a harvest festival observed a night before Makar Sankranti and marks the end of the winter solstice.
A number of beautiful traditions are related to this festival, which includes the lighting of a bonfire for ceremonial prayers. People thank the Almighty for the bounty of the season during the festival. Lohri marks the end of the coldest phase of the year as well.
Rituals of Lohri
Lohri sees the making of a bonfire around which people gather, sing songs and throw food items like gazak, chikki, popcorn, rewari, sesame or til seeds, jaggery, peanuts and sugarcane.
According to beliefs, the items are fed to the fire god to appease him and bless everyone with abundance and prosperity.
In parts of Punjab, a small image of the folk goddess Lohri is made with cattle dung and a fire is kindled beneath it with people chanting praises. In a few other parts of north India, the celebrations see Lohri fire consisting of cow dung and wood.
Origins and name behind Lohri
There are numerous legends and stories of origin behind Lohri. While it welcomes the comeback of longer days, legends of Lohri are abundant with stories of Dulla Bhatti and Sant Kabir.
According to the legend of Dulla Bhatti, he was a legendary figure during the reign of Emperor Akbar. He was hailed as a hero for protecting girls from being trafficked. His story of saving the girls Sundri and Mundri have gone on to become one of the most famous Lohri folk songs, Sunder Mundriye.
Another legend, which elaborates upon the name of the festival, is that some people think the name Lohri was derived from the word ‘Loi’, Loi was the wife of Sant Kabir.
There are others who think the word Lohri was derived from the word ‘Loh’ meaning warmth and fire. Some also believe in the legend that Lohri is a sister to Holika.
Til and rorhi or jaggery are an integral part of the festivities. According to certain beliefs, these two words eventually were combined tilohri and was shortened to Lohri over the years.