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Lohri, popularly known as the bonfire festival, is celebrated in Punjab and many other states of North India to welcome the harvesting season of the Rabi crops. Punjab is the largest producer of wheat in India and sown in the month of October and harvested in the month of March or April. Lohri is celebrated during the period when farmers rest after a strenuous harvesting season, expecting to reap a bumper crop, which will secure them financially and help them live a happy year ahead. There is some ambiguity about how the name Lohri was derived. Some believe it originated from ‘loh’ or iron pan used for cooking food, others say it comes from Loi, the name of the famous saint and poet Kabir.

Significance of Lohri

Lohri is primarily a festival of farmers, but it is celebrated by all communities with the same enthusiasm. It signifies the last leg of the winter season in North India. Punjab and other parts of North India face extreme cold temperatures during the months of December through February. The mercury hits the lowest mark in January when Lohri festival is celebrated. It is believed that after Lohri, there will be a northward movement of temperature. A bonfire is lit and villagers gather around it to sing and dance to the tune of local music and songs. The youth and the elders indulge in Bhangra and Gidda, the toe-tapping Punjabi folk dances to the loud and rhythmic beats of the dhol. There is lots of fun and high levels of energy are displayed during the celebrations.

Date of Lohri

Lohri is associated with the Solar year and marks the gradual culmination of winter. It is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the Hindu month of Paush or Magh. Generally, Lohri is celebrated one day before the popular Hindu festival Makar Sankranti.

Celebration of Lohri

For the happy-go-lucky people of Punjab, Lohri is not merely a festival but a reflection of their robust lifestyle. It is a festival that celebrates the exuberant way of life of the lion-hearted Punjabis. The bonfire is lit to invoke Agni, the God of Fire. They pray to the Lord to bless their land, so that they can enjoy the benefits of bountiful crops that will translate into happiness and prosperity for the rest of the year. Newly married couples celebrating Lohri after marriage seek the blessings of the Lord for a child. Any celebratory event that has happened in a family in recent past is all the more reason to celebrate Lohri with more enthusiasm.

The Lohri Prasad

People assemble around community bonfires, dance and sing, throw maize and puffed rice as a symbol of appreciation for their good times and exchange greetings. Children collect money and sweets from neighborhood, so that they can enjoy the festivities in their own sweet way. The Lohri Prasad includes makki ki roti or Indian bread made of maize flour and sarson ka saag or a dish made of mustard leaves and seeds. Villagers are also served Jaggery, groundnuts and puffed rice.

According to the holy script of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, those who mediate in this holy month be recipients of the Lord’s blessings.

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