Lohri in 2017
Friday 13 January
Lohri festival is one of the main festivals of Punjab region of India but it is celebrated all over the north India along with Punjabi families. It is basically the harvest festival of Punjab. Going by the English calender, Lohri is the first festival of India in any year . However, going by the Hindu calender, Lohri festival is celebrated in the 10th month which is called the Paush month. The Lohri festival marks the end of winters and is celebrated on the 13th day of January each year, a day before Makar Sankranti festival which is celebrated on 14th January in India.
History of Lohri Festival
Historically, Lohri festival is associated with Punjabi and Dogra cultures. The origin of Lohri festival in India can be traced back to a popular story of Lohri having Dulla Bhatti as its hero or the central character. It is said that Dulla Bhatti lived in Punjab when Akbar was the emperor of India. He used to rob off the rich like Robin hood in order to help the poor. He also adopted a girl after saving her from being sold in a slave market and later arranged her marriage with a Hindu boy. A famous lohri song describes this event – “Dulla Bhatti ho! Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho! Ser shakar pai ho!” which means that Dulla gave his daughter a kilogram of sugar as her marriage gift. This and many other songs of Lohri describes the hero of all Punjabis- Dulla Bhatti!
Significance of Lohri Festival
Lohri is one of the most important North India festivals that mark the significance of farming. Punjab, known as the breadbasket of India, grows wheat as its main winter crop. Wheat is sown in the month of October and harvested in March or April. By January, the wheat fields indicate a good harvest. Thus, the farmers celebrate Lohri festival during this period before they cut and gather the crop. In the modern India, not only farmers but other segments of society also celebrate Lohri as a day that promises the end of chilling winters. Also, the first Lohri of a new bride in a home or a newborn baby is considered very significant and due importance is given to the new members of the family.
For the fun loving Punjabis and Sikhs, Lohri is not only a festival but a celebration that exhibits their exuberance, energy and enthusiasm for life. Lohri is a community festival which is celebrated with family, friends and neighbors. A bonfire is organized in the evening for which fund is collected through contribution of all the community members. Of late, children have been entrusted with this responsibility who go door-to-door in order to collect fund. This gives extreme enjoyment to kids too and they involve themselves with the celebration of Lohri.
In the evening, when sum sets, people gather around the lit bonfires and make merry through dancing and singing around the bonfire. All the people collected do ‘parikrama’ (move in a circle around the fire) and offer such eatables as corns or popcorns, puffed rice, rewdi (a sweet made of sesame and jaggery or sugar), groundnuts, makhana (a type of dry fruit) etc. to the fire. While offering these things to fire, they all shout slogans like “adar aaye, darridder jaaye” (may honor come to all and may poverty goes away), “Lohri ni lakh lakh vadhaiyan” (many many happy wishes for Lohri). They all sing popular Lohri songs and dance to the tunes of Bhangra and Giddha songs. Afterwards, all of them eat the remaining eatables as “prasad” (offerings made to fire god). The traditional food of Punjab- ‘Makke di roti’ and ‘Sarson da saag’ (hand rolled chapati made of flour derived from corn and a preparation of mustard leaves)- is served to all along with other delicacies.
Lohri Cards and Gifts
After the Lohri celebration around the bonfire, all the people exchange greetings and gifts with friends and family. These days, the tradition of sending Lohri cards to relatives staying in different places has also become a norm.
There are many traditional songs for Lohri but the most famous lohri folk song is the “Sunder mundriye ho” The lyrics of this popular lohri traditional song is given here.
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!
Chache choori kutti! zamidara lutti!
Bade bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari itt!
Sanoo de de Lohri, te teri jeeve jodi!
Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pitt!
The Meaning of this Punjabi song for Lohri is given as under.
Hey Beautiful girl!
Who will think of you?
Dulla of the Bhatti clan will do this!
Dulla’s daughter got married!
He gave one kilo of sugar in marriage!
The girl wears a red suit!
But her shawl is torn!
Who will stitch her shawl?
The uncle made choori (bangle)!
The landlords looted it!
Landlords get beaten up!
Lots of gentle boys came!
One gentle boy was left behind!
The soldier arrested him!
The soldier hit him with brick!
Give us Lohri, long live your pair!
Whether you cry, or bang your head later on!
Apart from the traditional Lohri song, a variety of modern punjabi songs have become popular now a days. These modern Punjabi Lohri songs are played while Lohri traditions are followed around the bonfire and every one dance to their tune.