Lohri is celebrated on January 13th every year and marks the last few days and culmination of Winter. In 2020 too, Lohri falls on January 13th. Celebrated all across the country, Lohri is one of the most important festivals of Punjab. The gatherings and celebrations make Lohri a community festival. Lohri is called Lohi in rural Punjab. Lohri falls around the same time as Makar Sankranti.
Some people believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, name of the wife of Sant Kabir whereas some believe that it comes from the word ‘Loh’ which means light and warmness of fire. Another belief is that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished, the later survived in the fire with Prahlad.
Symbol of joy and happiness, Lohri is celebrated at the end of the winter season. This festival is mainly celebrated by the people who follow Sikhism, especially in Punjab and Haryana. It’s also known as the festival of harvest whereby, the farmers can thank the Supreme Being. Lohri is a way to spread the joy of seeing the sparkling pearls of rabi crops amidst traditional folk songs, dance and food. Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri as the financial new year. New agricultural tenancies commence on Lohri and rents are collected on this day by the landlords.
The festival is celebrated in the evening. Peanuts, jaggery, sesame seeds and gajak are especially used on this day. In the evening, people burn Lohri in an open area.
Lohri is an exceedingly auspicious day as it celebrates fertility and the spark of life. The first Lohri of a newlywed bride and a newborn child is considered very propitious and important. In the houses that have recently witnessed a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. People celebrate this festival with enthusiasm singing folk songs near the bonfire.
Importance Of Bonfire
The bonfire ceremony differs depending on the region of Punjab. In some places, folk Lohri goddess is made out of cow dung and fire is kindled underneath it and her praises are sung, while in others the Lohri fire consists of cow dung and wood and no reference to the goddess.
The bonfire is lit at sunset. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaries in the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance until the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire. People also pour milk and water around the bonfire.