The end of the winter season is a joyous one in India, with Lohri celebrated on January 13 annually. This is a special celebration, particularly in Northern India, that marks the harvest of the winter rabi crops and the end of the winter solstice. It celebrates the sun and the ushering in of longer days.
History of Lohri
Lohri is a traditional celebration, particularly observed by Northern India and linked to the Punjab region, to mark the passing of the winter solstice and welcome longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere. It is typically celebrated in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu, and is one of the most popular festivals in Northern India.
Lohri is linked to different significant legends but is typically observed a day before the Maghi festival, which is dedicated to the sun deity Surya. It is an official holiday in the Northern India region, and is usually celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement.
Historical references to Lohri are mentioned by European visitors to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1832. Further reference is made by Captain Mackeson distributing suits of clothes and large sums of money as rewards on Lohri day in 1836. The celebration of Lohri with the making of a huge bonfire at night is also noted in the royal court in 1844.
Another popular folklore links Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti, a folk hero who supposedly came from the Punjab region and led a revolt against the Mughal rule, during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Dulla Bhatti was regarded as a hero for rescuing Hindu girls from being forcibly taken and sold in the slave markets of the Middle East.
Therefore, along with singing and dancing around sacred bonfires, children go around homes singing the traditional folk songs of Lohri with Dulla Bhatti’s name included. After the song ends, the adults of the home are expected to give snacks and money to the singing troupe of youngsters.
The folk hero Dulla Bhatti is born in the mid-16th century and dies in 1599, after a legacy of activism.
Europeans in Maharaja Ranjit Singh make reference to Lohri.
Captain Mackeson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh distributes suits of clothes and large sums of money as rewards on Lohri day.
The royal court lights a huge bonfire at night to celebrate Lohri.
Are Lohri and Makar Sankranti the same?
They’re both harvest festivals, but Lohri, which celebrates the harvest of rabi crops, happens a day before Makar Sankranti.
Is Lohri celebrated in the whole of India?
Lohri is a harvest festival that is mostly celebrated in the northern states of India, such as Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. However, it is usually followed by other harvest festivals such as Pongal in South India and Makar Sankranti in the western parts of India.
Why do we burn fire on Lohri?
Folklore of Punjab believes that the flames of the bonfire lit on the day of Lohri carry the messages and prayers of the people to the sun god to bring warmth to the planet and to help crops grow. In exchange, the sun god blesses the land and ends the days of gloom and cold
How To Observe Lohri
Set up a cozy campfire
The festivities around the Lohri celebration include the lighting of a sacred bonfire. You can join in on the celebration by lighting a fire of your own. It could be a campfire or even a mini bonfire to ease into the end of the winter season. Invite friends and family to make it a wholesome celebration.
Sing Lohri songs
Part of the Lohri festivities includes singing songs. Practice your vocal skills today by looking up songs that fit the celebration and practicing to sing them.
Visit Indian friends or family
Do you have any Indian relatives or friends, today will be the perfect day to visit and celebrate with them. If you don’t have any close relatives or friends you could always go over to your local Indian neighbor or merchant and send your celebratory greetings.
5 Interesting Facts About Lohri
It marks a new financial year
Historically, the revenue for winter crops used to be collected on Lohri.
It’s named after a goddess
The day is named after the Goddess Lohri, the sister of Holika, who is celebrated on Holi.
It’s the longest night of the year
Lohri has the shortest day and longest night, after which every day will get longer.
It’s a harvest festival
The winter crop rabi is harvested in the days up to Lohri, and then on the festival day, all those involved in the labor gather around and celebrate the harvest.
It’s a Hindu religious festival
In Hinduism, it is believed to celebrate the Goddess Lohri and the God Agni.
Why Lohri is Important
It represents new beginnings
In Indian culture, Lohri marks a new beginning. People of India celebrate the festival with full zest and enthusiasm, and they also thank the sun god for the abundance of farm harvests in the previous year.
It encourages unity
During Lohri, all grudges and issues are to be put aside in order to fully bask in the day’s celebration. Everyone gathers around to sing and dance around the bonfires, and put their troubles aside.
It’s a tribute to activism
Lohri festival is also a tribute to the robin-hood of Punjab, Dulla Bhatti, who used to save the Punjabi girls from being sold in the slave market. This symbolizes the power of activism and standing for what is right.