Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival, it is also an example of a way of life. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather round the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular songs and exchange greetings. It is one of the most joyful occassions for every Punjabi, especially so for those families where there has been a recent marriage or the birth of a son.
In the morning on Lohri day, children go from door to door singing and demanding the Lohri 'loot' in the form of money and eatables like til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak , rewri, etc.
“Dabba bharaya leera da”
“Ai ghar ameera da”
Meaning - Box filled of cloths strips..this house is of the rich!
And those who weren't that generous had to face a
bunch of kids
chanting the following:
“Hukka bhai Hukkaa”
“Ai ghar bhukka”
Meaning - Hukka! Oh! Hukka!..this house is full of misers!
They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi avatar of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor, and once helped a miserable village girl out of her misery by getting her married off like his own sister.
In the evening, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle around (parikrama) the bonfire and throw puffed rice, popcorn and other munchies into the fire, shouting "Aadar aye dilather jaye" (May honor come and poverty vanish!), and sing popular folk songs. This is a sort of prayer to Agni, the fire god, to bless the land with abundance and prosperity. After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad (offerings made to god). The prasad comprises five main items: til, gajak, jaggery, peanuts, and popcorn.In homes where there is a new-born son or a newly wed man, Lohri is celebrated with even greater enthusiasm, and sweets made of molasses and sesame seed are sent to relatives and friends. Since the Punjabi word for sesame seed is til and for molasses rorhi the festival is also called Tilori.
One of the most famous song which children sing during this festival is:
Sunder mundriya …ho !
Tera kaun vicahara..ho!
Dulla Bhatti walla…ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae... ho!
Saer Shakar payi…ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka…ho!
Kudi da saalu paatta... ho!
Shallu kaun samete…ho!
Chacha galee dese…ho!
Chache choori kutee…ho!
Gin-gin pole layee…ho!
Ik pola reh gaya…ho!
Sipahee farh ke lei gaya…ho!
Sipahee ne mari eet!
Sanoo de de lohri te teri jeeve jodi!
Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pit!
According to the Hindu calendar, Lohri falls in mid-January. The earth, farthest from the sun at this point of time, starts its journey towards the sun, thus ending the coldest month of the year, Paush, and announcing the start of the month of Magh and the auspicious period of Uttarayan, meaning it passes across Makar (the zodiac sign Capricorn) and moves northwards. This alteration of the sun's position lessens the severity of the winter season and the earth receives warmth bringing comfort to her inhabitants. According to the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna manifests himself in his full magnificence during this time. The Hindus 'nullify' their sins by bathing in the Ganges.
The festival of Lohri sees enthusiastic celebrations by both Sikhs and Hindus, in the North Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and some areas of of Himachal Pradesh. The festival is also celebrated in many other states of India, under different names. In Bengal the occassion is observed as "Makar Sankranti" as "Magha Bihu" in Assam and as "Tai Pongal" in Kerala. A similar celebration of the annual harvest, Pongal, occurs in Tamil Nadu.
The Legend: Dulla Bhatti
People have always associated Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti. The central character of most Lohri songs is Dulla Bhatti, who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East from the Sandal Bar region. He arranged their marriages to boys of their religion with rituals and provided them with dowries.
Dulla Bhatti was a famous legendary Rajput hero of Punjab, who led a rebellion against the famous Mughal king Akbar. He was born as Rai Abdullah Khan Bhatti and was raised along with Salim, the son of Emperor Akbar. He became a rebel when he came to know how the Emperor had executed his father and grandfather. With the assistance of Prince Salim himself, Dulla succeeded in putting up a strong fight against Emperor Akbar but was ultimately caught and executed due to unavoidable circumstances.
मीठे गुड़ दे विच मिल गया तिल;
उड्डी पतंग ते खिल गिया दिल;
हर पल सुख ते हर दिन शांति पाओ;
रब अग्गे दुआ;
Moongfali di khushboo te gurh di mithaas,
Makki di roti te sarson da saag Mubarak hove tvahnu Lohri da eh tyohaar.
Happy Lohri !