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Lohri-The Festival of Richness and Plenty

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LOHRI

Like most other festivals in India, Lohri is also related to the agricultural activities of the farmers. It marks the harvesting season in Punjab and the end of the winter season. Lohri usually falls on the last day of the month of Paush, a day is known as Makar Sankranti in most parts of the country. According to the English calendar, Lohri falls on 13th January every year. Lohri is also an occasion when parents give presents to their newly married daughters. "For peasants, Lohri marks the beginning of a new financial year because on this day they settle the division of the products of the land between themselves and the tillers.
 

History of Lohri in India

The origin of Lohri is believed to date back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Since northern India and Pakistan came under the Indus Valley Civilisation, Lohri is celebrated here with much pomp and show. In other parts of the country, it is observed by different names, like Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Bihu in Assam and Tai Pongal in Kerala. Even if there are many legends associated with the festival, the most famous and interesting story behind Lohri is that of Dulla Bhatti. He was popular among the poor at the time of Mughal king Akbar’s rule. He used to plunder the rich community and distribute the loot among the poor and needy. This made him famous and revered among the populace. As the legend goes, he once saved a girl from the hands of kidnappers and then took care of her like his own daughter.

Celebrations of Lohri

Originally, Lohri was celebrated the night just before Winter Solstice. It used to mark the coldest night of the year, which was followed by the longest night and shortest day of the year. Since the night is extremely chilly, people protected themselves by burning the fire and keeping it throughout the night and spending their time around the fire, propitiating the deities of the sun and fire and then, made merry by eating the remnants of the offering, dancing, singing and then taking heavy and delicious food, along with their relatives. This festival also marks the harvesting time of rabi crops, that is, the crops of the winter season. Sesame seeds, jaggery, radish, mustard, and spinach are also harvested, and they are the primary attractions of the festivity.
 

Why Lohri Puja?

Lohri is a festival associated directly with the sun, earth, and fire. Sun represents the life element, earth represents our food and fire maintains our health. All these elements are granted to us free of cost by the supreme personality of Godhead and we are not liable to pay for them. But, since we require them and are taking the selfless service from the nature, it is always advised to say thanks to them in return and pray to them for our protection and prosperity.
 

Lohri Recipes

1.Ganee Ki Kheer
2.Atta Ladoo
3.Dry Fruit Chikki
4.Kurmure Laddoo
 

Here are 5 foods that come to mind when we think of this harvest festival:

1.Pinni
2.Gajak
3.Chikki
4.Rewari
5.Makke Ki Roti With Sarso Ka Saag
 

Bonfire Ritual:

Lohri marks the end of the chilly winter. In the evening, after the sunset, huge logs of woods are gathered and lit in the harvested fields. True-spirited, fun-loving men and women circle around the rising flames, do parikrama (rotate around the bonfire) thrice and toss puffed rice, peanuts, and sweets into the fire, uttering “Aadar aye dilather Jaye (May prosperity arrive and poverty fade away!)”. After praying to the fire god (Agni), people meet their relatives and friends to exchange greetings and Prasad (offerings made to the fire god). Hindus pour milk and water around the bonfire. This ritual is performed to honor the Sun God for his warm protection. Traditionally, the offering comprises of five main eateries: roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, gajak, popcorn, and peanuts. Then, sturdy, hearty men beat the dhol (traditional drum) announcing the starting of the festivity. Both energetic men and women dressed in colourful ethnic attire perform Giddha and Bhangra (popular folk dances) circling the bonfire.

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Birla Ghat, Haridwar
April 10, 2021