The time of the month has come again this year where people, especially from northern parts of India are busy preparing for Lohri. The long awaited bonfire festival is when people come out of their homes and celebrate the harvesting of Rabi or winter crops. You can see people giving in to it by letting their hair down and just enjoying the traditional folk music and dances. Lohri is celebrated all over the northern parts of India with a lot of fervor.
Lohri is one of the greatest festivals of Punjab and Haryana. According to the Hindu calendar, this bonfire festival is celebrated on the 13th of January during the month of Paush or Magh just a day before Makar Sankranti. At this point of time, it believed that the earth which is farthest from the sun begins to move towards the sun, ending the coldest month of the year. From this time onwards the month of Magh begins and also the auspicious period of Uttarayan.
While there are many reasons for celebrating Lohri, the celebration of this festival is mainly associated with the harvest of Rabi or winter crops. Wheat is the main winter crop in Punjab which is sown in the month of October and harvested in March or April. During this time around in January the fields come up with the promise of golden harvest and thus the celebration of Lohri begins. This is basically a rest period before the cutting and gathering of crops.
How is Lohri celebrated?
During the day children go from door to door singing Lohri songs and asking for Lohri items, no one should turn them back empty handed. Towards the evening, bonfires are lit in the harvested fields where people get together and surround the rising flames. During this time puffed rice, popcorn and different types of munchies are thrown into the fire, singing popular folk songs. This is also a kind of prayer to Agni, the fire God, to bless the land abundantly. After this people get together with friends and relatives and exchange gifts and distribute prasad. This festival is celebrated in a true spirit of culture where Punjabi men and women perform Punjabi folk dances like Bhangra and Giddha around the bonfire. The day ends with a traditional feast of sarson da saag (mustard greens), makki di roti (multi millet hand rolled bread) and other winter savouries.
Lohri is a wonderful opportunity for people to take a break from their daily routine and enjoy some fun and dance. In other parts of India Lohri coincides with Pongal, Bihu, Makar Sankranti and Uttarayan. All of these festivals communicate the same message of oneness and brotherhood.