The date of Lohri is considered extremely auspicious by Hindus as it marks the sun’s journey in Uttarayan (northward) for a six month period (from 14 January lasting till 14 July) as opposed to southward or Dakshinayan movement. The festival also marks the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. The unique date of the festival is also referred to as Makar Sankranthi signifying the sun’s entry into Makara or Capricorn zodiac. This very propitious day is celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Rituals of Lohri :
The day of Lohri begins with children visiting houses in the neighourhood ‘asking for Lohri’ and singing folk songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti – the Robin Hood of Punjab who used to rob rich and distribute the loot amongst the poor. These little visitors are either given cash or winter savories like groundnut, popcorn, gur, til, revri and gajak. In the evening bonfires are lit in open grounds outside the house or in courtyards and people gather around it. Relatives and friends are invited for Lohri celebrations especially by families where there has been an arrival of bride or a son is born. A part of the munchies collected by children are put in the fire while the rest is distributed as prasad after the puja. People sing traditional Lohri songs as they perform Parikrama of the sacred bonfire.
Lohri Celebrations :
Lohri is particularly a happy occasion for farmers. For them it is the time to relax after days of toil of cutting and gathering grains and other food crops. They are happy with the harvest of the Rabi (winter crop) and are in full mood to enjoy the festival to the hilt. Best of Punjabi Bhangra and gidda performance can be seen during the festival of Lohri.
For a bride her first Lohri holds a lot of significance. The festivities are doubled as relatives and friends pour in to give their best wishes to the newly wed. Same is the case in the family where a child, especially a son, is born. Essential part of the Lohri dinner is the world famous Makke di roti and sarson da saag.