Winter has arrived. The chill in the atmosphere makes us all seek heat and warmth. Imagine being around a bonfire on a cold, freezing night… and there you have one of the lesser-known, but no less enthusiastically celebrated festivals of India. Originating from Punjab, Lohri was generally celebrated on winter solstice- the shortest day and longest night of the year. But these days, Punjabis celebrate it on the last day of the month during which winter solstice takes place. This is because Lohri is linked to the Bikrami calendar and the twinning of the festival with Makar Sankranti which is celebrated in the Punjab region as Maghi Sangrand.
Lohri has many different associations. Some celebrate it to give respect to the seasons and the natural elements of earth, fire, wind and water. Some associate it with the harvest season- the harvest of rabi crops. Sugarcane products such as gurh and gachak are also central to the celebrations. Farmers believe the new financial year starts with Lohri and celebrate it as such.
The ceremony involves children goiung form door to door singing folk songs- they are given sweets and/or money, and this collection doen by the kids is called “Lohri” and it consists of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. This is later distributed during the bonfire ceremony. The bonfire is generally lit at sunset in the main village square. People sit around, toss the lohri in it, sing and dance till the fire burns out. Some also go around the bonfire offering prayers.
Singing and dancing forms the main integral part of the festival. People wear their best and brightest clothes and come and do the bhangra dance. The festival was shown in the famous movie Veer Zaara too as shown below.
Ethnic wear from Triveni from like the one shown below, can be worn to the best effect during the celebration. Dressing up in these will make your Lohri brighter!
Authored by Sabiha Gani