Every year, each of us, on January 13th, celebrate the festival of Lohri; in which we are accustomed to throw peanuts, gajjaks, popcorn and other items into a blazing fire. It is said that we throw in all these things because we are actually disposing off all our bad habits, wrong behavior and unpleasant human nature into the fire and burning them to ashes so that we start a brand new, positive year, with new beliefs. But, do you actually know the reason why it started and why it is so widespread today?
Lohri, the popular winter Punjabi folk festival, is celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus from the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. It is observed the night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar it typically falls about the same date every year (January 13). It is actually a festival celebrated at the end of the winter season since it celebrates the beginning of the cropping season. It is also a fond remembrance of the Sun deity, Surya Dev.
It is enthusiastically celebrated with songs and dances, trick or treating with each other, eating delicious sweets and celebrating the New Year. Lohri songs mention Surya, asking for heat and thanking him for his return. Other legends explain the celebration as a folk reverence for fire (agni) or the goddess of Lohri. During the day, children also 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. Where families are welcoming newly-weds and newborns, the requests for treats increases.
The food items primarily included in the festivities are gurh, gajjak, peanuts, popcorn, mustard greens, sesame seeds, rice, rewari etc. Here is a picture of solidified and unrefined sugarcane juice, known as “gurh”, which would make your mouth water 🙂
Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire. The lighting of bonfire during this winter festival is also an ancient tradition, where people traditionally get rid of all negativities.