Lohri

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Lohri

Lohri (Punjabi: ਲੋਹੜੀ) a festival celebrated on the 13th day of January is a festival of zeal and verve marking the coming culmination of the chilly winter. A time when the sun heads back to the North and stays longer each day warming the ground for the new crops soon to be sown. The festival is celebrated all over the Panjab, Jammu, Kashmir, Delhi and even in much of India.

Calendar

The festival shares much in common with festivals all over the world which until Julius Ceasar and his follower Augustus decided that each deserved a month named after them, added two months forever throwing things out of season in the west. This is why September, October, November and December are each 2 months out of sequence with their names derived from Sanskrit. December (10) Das-ember becomes the 12th month. Otherwise the whole world would celebrate the coming of the new year at the same time.

Lohri-Bon-fire.jpg

Traditions of Bonfire

In true spirit of the culture, men and women perform Bhangra and Giddha, popular Punjabi folk dances, around a bonfire. Enthusiastic children go from house house to gather their 'lohri loot' while singing songs They sing old songs about Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to give to the poor. People oblige them generously by giving them money and eatables as offering for the festival. Here one notices a similarity to the Western Halloween when children carry out the same hunt for sweets and treats without the money being added in, again the two added months of those pesky Roman Emperors puts that festival back to the end of October.

Late in the evening, people gather around the bonfire and throw sweets (gachak and rewri), puffed rice and popcorn (as holy offering) into it and sing folk songs. Lohri is also an auspicious occasion to celebrate a newly born baby’s or a new bride’s arrival in the family when gifts, clothes and even money are showered on the mother while her hands are often painted with ‘mehndi’. The day ends with a traditional feast of sarson da saag and makki di roti and a dessert of rau di kheer (a dessert made of sugarcane juice and rice).

Celebration

Legends

1. It is believed that a king of Rajput tribe , Dula Bhatti had revolt against the Mughal King and was killed.Since then the tribal singers traced the history of Dula Bhatti on Lohri Festival.


2. Lohri and Holika were two sisters. It is said that Harna Kayshap ordered Holika to sit in the fire taking Prehlad in her lap along with Lohri. Prahlad escaped with Lohri whereas Holika expired.

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Present-day Festivities

In today's day and age, the celebration of Lorhi has evolved into an event that commemorates the birth of a boy, or the marriage of a newly-wed couple, but celebrating the birth of a boy while we neglect the birth of a girl, shows inequality to girls, which is totally against Sikh principles. Being a Punjabi festival, it has also contributed to the preference of boys over girls in Punjabi culture. This preference is also shown in the prevalence of female-infanticide in Punjab.

Lorhi should be celebrated for the birth of any child regardless of gender. Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Asa Di Vaar, which is read everyday, states:

ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਝ ਜਿਤ੝ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ||
So kio ma(n)dhaa aakheeai jith ja(n)mehi raajaan.
So why call her (a woman) bad? From her, kings are born.

(See Also: Woman) New-generation Punjabis should celebrate festivals, but should not be caught up in age-old traditions that take the community backwards.