11 January, 2019
Lohri is a festival celebrated to bid adieu to the cold weather and to corroborate a ‘THANK GIVING’ to the Almighty for having given a good crop and thus prosperity. It is celebrated on 13th January, the most solistic winter day of the year, the shortest day with the longest night. From this day the days are shorter and the nights are longer. This day is just a day before Makar Sankranti and signifies the end of Hindu “Poss” month, the coldest month and start of “Magh” month. It is mainly followed in the crop growing areas of India.
Punjabis and the Sindhi community celebrate this festival as “Lal Loi.” Loi was the name of Kabir, and hence Lohri is derived from this name. Some claim that Lohri name is derived from the word Tilohri, a combination of Til and rorhi. This festival is celebrated in the other parts of the country as well, under the name of Bhogi (a very desperately awaited day) in Andhra Pradesh, in Assam, it is Magha Bihu, and in Tamilnadu as Tai Pongal.
This festival essentially offers thanks to Surya, the Sun God, who is at the centre of it all.
It is in this mythical sense that Lohri, Makar Shakrantri in the North and Pongal, etc.in the South asks us to let mankind live and thrive in peace and prosperity. The Lord Surya, basically, is a god of ‘Giving‘ and celestially believed to be a great giver to the universe, in order that the human life goes on smoothly. Hindu mythology professes Sun worshipping, a boon to bring prosperity and power to mankind.
Lohari, being centered in Punjab, seems to have taken its name from ‘LOH’ a thick iron sheet (big round plate), TAWA, used for baking chapattis for the community ‘Langers’. Loh signifies the supply of heat by which to bake or cook. Another mythological significance is, because the rays of sun shower its benedictions, water is offered to the sun as a part of daily pooja at sunrise.
The bonfire on the day of Lohri depicts the image of the sun itself. By taking a round of this, signifies the thanksgiving to Lord Sun and heralding of a New Year. In Punjab, this festival is linked to the atmospheric physical changes. This festival synchronies with the celebration of ‘Makar Shakrantri’ to collaborate to the praying for prosperity as people offer ‘Daan’ into the simmering ember. This special festival providing food, daan and fun including kite flying etc are considered as a reward for their thankfulness and prayers. Legend has it that it is because of Lohri, the entire year would pass with peace and prosperity due to the grace of Mother Earth. Mother Earth owes it to Lord Surya for the bumper production and thus happiness.
Another story that connects with this festival in Punjab is the legend of Dulla Bhatti, who was a robber, but who rescued and saved many girls from the slave market, and thus is a sort of ‘Women empowering’ festival. People sing songs to show their gratitude towards him; many of the Lohri songs are based on the bravery and good deeds of Dulla Bhatti.
This festival is also the festival of Fire or Agni. Agni is considered a source of energy and a Bonfire in the misty cold evening of the day, signifies the momentum of energy and exhibited in the form of celebrations. People dancing around the fire, singing songs and performing dances with a lot of masti in and around the entire atmosphere. Hilarious and romancing songs, particularly by the newly wedded ladies and the young girls, add to the great fervors of the festivities. Til and other things made thereof, and mostly grown food items like groundnuts, Gur (jaggery) made of sugarcane and other such eatables are offered to the people gathered. Mainly in Punjab, the bazaars are tastefully decorated, drums are beaten and the famous dance Bhangra is performed all around. Sugarcanes are heated on the bonfire and they explode like bombs when they are stuck to the earth.
The combination of the festivals of LOHRI, MAKARSHANKRANTI & PONGAL, are the festivals of love, prosperity, peace, and happiness.
MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF US WITH THE HAPPINESS, PROSPERITY AND WITH LOVE AMONG ALL OF US.
By Samarth Member, Shri Ramesh Srivastava, Jaipur
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