Lohri is the popular balefire festival. It is the coldest day of winter and is decided by the orientation of the sun. It signifies the entry of Sun into the Makar Rashi from the Tropic of Cancer i.e. movement from north to south. Lohri also marks the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. Mainly girls perform this ritual.
Celebrated in: Mainly observed in various region of North India like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi.
How to conduct it: People used to dance and enjoy to the fullest across the bonfire.
Significance: It marks the end of winter chilly season. Lord Krishna is in his full swing of richness during this period. This festival is utmost important for the farmers as it marks the fulfilment of the promise of good harvesting. Fields are blossoming and farmers just watch it till the time to come to cut them which is near.
It is believed that our ancestors had created a mantra which is dedicated to the Sun God. Which is as follows:
Where have the shawls and braziers gone?
To the golden mountain Where’s the golden mountain gone?
To the sun’s ray Where has the sun’s ray gone?
To the sun Where’s the sun gone?
To the fire The fire burns, the ray warms
The snows melt, the cold days have ended.”
This mantra pleases Sun and pleads in front of him to grant the planet the warmth that he carries which is suffering from the ill nature of chilly winter.
It is the way of ancient men to protect their abodes from the wild animals. It is also observed for arranging the marriage of any girl if not happening. Another message associated with it is:
“Let purity come, dirt depart
Dirt be uprooted and its roots Cast in the fire.”
When people throw sesame seeds in the fire they ask for sons. The saying is: As many as the elder brother’s wife throws, so many sons the younger brother’s wife will bear. 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.
Legend: On the eve of Lohri the most popular songs sung by groups of boys invariably end with the exclamation ‘ho’:
Sundri Mundri Hei! Hoi!
Tera Kaun Bechara! Hoi!
Dullah Bhatti wala! Hoi!
Dullah Di Dhi viyahi ! Hoi !
Sher ShaKar pai! Hoi!
Kuri de Mamme aaye! Hoi!
UnaNe ChuRi Kuti! Hoi!
Jimidari Lutti! Hoi!
Ik kola GhuT Gaya!
Special significance for Punjab: It beings good news for the breadbasket state of India. It is the harvesting period which signals of bringing the fulfilment of all the desires with loads of money. They thanks God for his blessing and have an eye on the crops of the farmers which first burgeon and then flourish with full mood. The weather has played a significant role in this process. It is the way of living life for Punjabis as it indicates the resting period which in turn points to the work behind the fest. In the same way if any big task comes up in life then you have to be in full vigour to complete it.
People perform different dance items to celebrate it and make it as big as possible. For children fun time too as they act as refugee and go house to house to generate money for the celebration. People according to their sheet gives the financial help. Big logs of wood are tied together and stand vertically and people gather around it. First they offer popcorn, peanuts, raveri and sweets to the fire as a matter of respect. It is for the bliss of Agni dev to help them make good money from the crops. From some time now it has been celebrated for some other purpose as well like the birth of any baby or arrival of bride at home. In short the new entrants will be greet through this fest. Everyone seems to be very excited when it comes and eagerly wait for this fest as the celebration goes throughout night. Various cuisines are prepared on this day.
Origin: Various tales are heard about it but the exact nature is still unknown. One is: The origin of Lohri is related to the central character of most Lohri songs is Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber who lived in Punjab during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued Hindu girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East. He arranged their marriages to Hindu boys with Hindu rituals and provided them with dowries. Understandably, though a bandit, he became a hero of all Punjabis. So every other Lohri song has words to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.
People think that It is derived from the word of Sant Kabir wife as it is called Lohi at some places and others have point of view of “loh” which is used to bake chapattis. Another is related to the Hollika and Lohri who were sisters and former passed away in the fire. Eating til and rohri which together constitute the big version tilhori and hence lohri.
Pooja Vidhi: People make the idol of Goddess Lohri with gobar, adore it, kindle fire and praises it. Then a large bonfire is constructed and celebrations begins. By puffing the various sweet items in the fire will spread the fragrance of sugar all over, Firing of crackers will lit the face of each and everyone around.