By Deepti Dogra
New Delhi [India], January 12 : As soon as we welcome the New Year, the month of January comes up with the Punjabi festival of Lohri. Celebrated across many states in India, Lohri itself has a story to tell which not everyone knows.
This festival symbolises the ripening of the winter crops as well as the start of a new harvesting season. Lohri is all about delicious food, family, and friends, along with traditional folk songs and dance.
Lohri is celebrated every year on January 13. It signifies the passing of the winter season. As per beliefs, Lohri has the longest night before winter passes and is followed by the shortest day of the year known as Magh in the Hindu lunar calendar.
Lohri and sugarcane products go hand in hand. If you are celebrating Lohri, you will be indulging in Gur (jaggery) along with gajjak. Along with that, radish, spinach and mustard leaves (Sarson da saag) are essential items to be added to the menu and have been a delicacy since ancient times. Add Makki di roti and there you have a feast to cherish. Apart from these dishes, you can munch on peanuts and til rice which is made up of sesame seeds, rice, and jaggery.
Lohri is a festival to celebrate fertility and the joy of life. In the villages, while harvested fields and farms are lit up with bonfires, there is much more to it. Since the cold winter morning, people start roaming around to collect branches for the classic bonfire.
The children too have a part! They go from door to door asking for "Lohri Loot" and receive money along with til (sesame seeds), jaggery, peanuts, gajjak, or rewari. The rooms of the houses are sprinkled with water as a ritual.
In the evening, people gather for 'Parikrama' and they throw munchies like popcorn, puffed rice as well as rewari in bonfire. Sugarcanes are also thrown into the bonfire as an offering. This spreads a fragrance of burning sugar all over.
Apart from that, they pray "Aadar aye dilather jaye" which means "May honour come and poverty vanish" to the fire asking for the fertility of the land and abundant crops. They then celebrate by singing folk songs while dancing.
Everyone graces the event by wearing new clothes and gifting each other sweets. Along with that, this is an auspicious festival for newlyweds and newborns. While newlyweds wear jewellery, newborns hold a comb as part of a ritual.
Lohri is a festival of togetherness and the bond between friends and family. Add a bonfire and the celebration begins. Happy Lohri!
By Deepti Dogra