Happy Lohri 2023: What is the story behind the celebration of Lohri, the harvest festival?

Lohri is a popular winter Punjabi folk festival that is mostly observed in Northern India. The significance and legends surrounding the Lohri festival are numerous, and they all connect the festival to the Punjab region.
What is the story of Lohri?
What is the story of Lohri?

Lohri, a seasonal festival in North India, has a history as old as the Indus Valley civilization itself. It heralds the end of winter and the arrival of spring and the new year. There are various folklore and stories surrounding its origin.

Lohri is Holika's sister, according to Hindu beliefs. While the former was killed in the Holi fire, the latter was saved by bhakt Prahlad.

Other traditions hold that the festival was named after Loi, the name of Saint Kabir's wife. Others believe Lohri derives from the word 'loh,' which refers to a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapattis for community feasts.

Other than this folklore and stories, the celebration of the Lohri festival is also linked to the historical character of Dulla Bhatti. Do you know about him?

Dulla Bhatti was a Rajput Muslim who allegedly came from the Punjab region and led an uprising against Mughal rule during Akbar's reign. According to legend, four months before Dulla was born, Mughal ruler Humayun murdered his father Farid Khan, and grandfather Sandal Bhatti.

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To strike fear into the hearts of rebels, the skins of both were stuffed with wheat hay and hung outside the village of Bharwa.To take revenge, Dullah Bhatti developed into that time's Robin Hood in order to exact revenge on the victims. He used to steal goods from Akbar's zamindars and give them to the needy and underprivileged. He was seen by Akbar as a dacoit. Dullah is best known for saving women who had been taken against their will and sold into slavery. He then helped them with the stolen money and arranged their marriages with village boys.

Sundri and Mundri, who are now known as Sunder and Mundriye in Punjabi folklore, were among the girls who were rescued by Dulla Bhatti. Folklore holds that Dulla Bhatti was so strong that Akbar's army of 12 thousand men was unable to capture him. As a result, in 1599, he was unjustly captured during a fight and hanged. Therefore, people honor Dullah Bhatti and his sacrifices on the day of the Lohri festival.

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A small image of the Lohri goddess is typically made with gobar (cattle dung), decorated, lit on fire beneath it, and chanted at during ceremonies associated with the Lohri festival. The last ritual involves lighting a sizable bonfire at sunset, sprinkling gur, sugar-candy, rewaries, and sesame seeds into it, then gathering around it to sing and dance until the fire goes out. People bring the last embers of the fire inside. Fire is continuously maintained in Punjabi village homes by the use of cakes made from cow dung. On this day, eating til (sesame seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is thought to be necessary. It's possible that the words til and rorhi merged to form tilorhi, which later became abbreviated to Lohri.

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The north Indian holiday of Lohri falls on the same day as Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magha Bihu in Assam, and Tai Pongal in Kerala.

FAQ

Why is Lohri celebrated by men only?

Lohri was about women resisting sexual violence and attaining a sense of freedom by escaping Akbar and his men.

Which God is worshipped and celebrated on Lohri?

It is also a day to remember the Sun deity or the goddess of Lohri.

What Punjabis do on Lohri?

In Punjab's villages, it is a tradition to eat gajjak, sarson da saag and makki di roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat 'til rice'--sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.

Why is Lohri celebrated in India?

Lohadi or Lal Loi, it marks the harvest of the rabi crops and the end of the winter solstice, that is, the onset of longer days and shorter nights.

What is Lohri celebrated for?

Lohri festival is traditionally associated with the harvest of rabi crops.
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