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Lohri : Bonfire festival of Punjabis all over India

LOHRI : The biggest Festival of Punjab

Lohri is a popular Punjabi festival, celebrated by people from the Punjab region of India and Punjabi community all over India. It is one of the biggest Festival of Punjabis & Punjab.


There are many origins of Lohri: all forming part of folklore. However, the main theme of Lohri is the belief that Lohri is the cultural celebration of the Winter Solstace. Lohri is meant to be celebrated on the shortest day of the year.

A key feature of Lohri is the bonfire. Lighting of the fire has been common in Winter festivals throughout time and the world: it signifies the return of longer days. For some the bonfire has a religious meaning, a remnant of ancient origins. For others, the bonfire is no more than a tradition.

Lohri is traditionally associated with the harvest of the Rabi crops. The traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January and therefore, Lohri is seen by some to be a harvest festival. The general time to sow sugarcane is January to March and the harvesting period is between December to March with a 12 to 18 month cycle.

Sugarcane products such as gurh and gachak are central to Lohri celebrations, as are nuts which are harvested in January The other important food item of Lohri is radish which can be harvested between October and January.

Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri as the financial new year. It is a very important day. The farmers celebrate Lohri as such. New agricultural tenancies commence on Lohri and rents are collected on this day.

It is traditional to eat Gajak, Sarson da SAAG, Radish, Makki ki Roti, ground nuts & Jaggery.
It is also traditional to eat "til rice" which is made by mixing jaggery, sesame seeds and rice.

Over time, people have associated Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti.
The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legend of Dulla Bhatti, who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
He was regarded as a hero in Punjab. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued poor Punjabi girls, being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East from the Sandal Bar region. He arranged their marriages to boys and provided them with dowries. Amongst them were two girls Sundri & Mundri (married in 1614) who gradually became theme of Punjab' folklore. So some Lohri songs express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.

During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.
The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Lohri is then distributed at night during the festival. Till, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire.
The bonfire ceremony differs depending on the location in Punjab. In some parts, a small image of the Lohri goddess is made with gobar (cattle dung) decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. In other parts, the Lohri fire consists of cow dung and wood with no reference to the Lohri goddess.

The bonfire is lit at sunset in the main village square. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaries on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire.
This is to show respect to the natural element of fire. It is traditional to offer guests til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn.
Milk and water is also poured around the bonfire by Hindus. This ritual is performed for thanking the Sun God and seeking his continued protection.
 

The Famous Folk Lore sung by Punjabis is ...
Sunder mundriye ho!

Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!

Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!

Ser shakkar payee ho!

Kudi da laal pathaka ho!

Kudi da saalu paata ho!

Salu kaun samete!

Chacha gali dese!
Chache choori kutti!
Zamidara lutti!

Zamindaar sudhaye!

Bum Bum bhole aaye!

Ek bhola reh gaya!

Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari itt!

Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pitt!

Sanoo de de Lohri, te teri jeeve jodi!




Translation
Beautiful girl

Who will think about you

Dulla of the Bhatti clan will

Dulla's daughter got married

He gave one ser of sugar!
The girl is wearing a red suit!

But her shawl is torn!

Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori!

The landlords looted it!
Landlords are beaten up!

Lots of simple-headed boys came!

One simpleton got left behind!

The soldier arrested him!

The soldier hit him with a brick!
(Cry or howl)!

Give us Lohri, long live your pair (to a married couple)!