After the grand celebrations of the New Year, Indians will enter 2018 on a festive note with Lohri around the corner. Lohri 2018 will mark the harvest festival around the country; the day is celebrated around the nation with different names such as Lohri, Pongal, Bihu. Lohri is celebrated on January 13 as people pay homage to Surya (the Sun God) hoping that the almighty grace the fields with more greenery and thank the nature for a bountiful harvest. The festival is celebrated generously across northern India, majorly in the states of Punjab and Haryana where people exchange greetings, delectables and enjoy by singing and dancing on traditional folk songs.
Lohri or the harvest festival is celebrated to mark the end of the sowing season and beginning of the farming season. A hearty ceremony is organised in localities across Punjab and Haryana where people gather to celebrate together. Some theories also suggest that the festival marks the end of chilly winters and the beginning of Magh. Homes are decorated and lit and the fields remain lush with harvested mustard and grain crops. Lohri is of great significance for Punjabis who solemnise harvesting of Rabi (winter) crops with songs, dance and great food.
The significance of Lohri: Why is Lohri Celebrated?
In Punjab, the Lohri festival is related to the wheat and sugarcane productions in the region. January is considered as the best time to harvest the sugarcane crops. Several Punjabi farmers also take Lohri as the beginning of the new financial year. Lohri is of great significance for the farmers as it marks the harvesting season and the passing of winter solstice. Rabi crops are in the prime stage of getting harvested during Lohri. Bihu in Assam and Pongal in Tamil Nadu is also celebrated at the same time and are the traditional harvesting festival of the respective regions.
According to the Hindu calendar, Lohri is celebrated on the longest night before the winter solstice. Some legends also mention that Lohri is celebrated to acknowledge the heroics of Dulha Bhatti, who with his heroics won the hearts of poor. The man used to rob the rich and distribute the accumulated wealth to the poor. He also used to fight for the woman and once helped a needy woman get settled and married. Majority of Lohri song are sung in his praise. Another legend states that Lohri is related to Prahalad. King Harnakash once ordered Holika to sit in the fire with Prahlad and Lohri. Both Lohri and Prahalad managed to survive but Holika burned down. People burn woods and pay homage to the fire God for the same reason.
Lohri 2018 date and time
Lohri is celebrated on January a 13, a day before Makar Sankranti or the Maghi. According to the Hindu calendar, Lohri is celebrated in the month of Paush and is considered to be the last day of the Hindu month. The Lohri celebrations generally begin at evening when people gather around a bonfire and enjoy the festivities.
Lohri Customs and rituals
Lohri marks brighter days ahead and is a means to commemorate peace and joy. The day starts with children going around the neighbourhood, door to door singing traditional Lohri songs about Dulha Bhatti and demanding ‘Lohri loot’ or money from the elders. A number of savouries are prepared and shared with friends and family. Sweets like gajak and rewri are a must have. By the evening, people gather around a bonfire which is flamed after collecting raw dried wood and twigs. People throw rice, popcorn, nuts and other grains into the fire while singing traditional folk songs about the Sun God and Dulha Bhatti. It is said that the bigger the Lohri fire the better it is. Prayers are offered after which greetings and sweets are exchanged and Bhangra, Gidda: Punjabi traditional folk dances are performed. People feast on traditional dishes like sarso ka sag (stew of greens) and makke di roti (Corn bread) made fresh out of the newly harvested crops and wish for a better harvest in the future. People dress in new clothes and exchange gifts, couples are given new jewellery among others.