Celebrated in the northern states of Punjab, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana and the Union Territory of Delhi, the crop-cutting festival of Lohri is literally the first festival of the year; a festival full of zest, dancing, singing and joy.
Traditionally, people put on their festive best and come together to dance the bhangra and gidda to the beat of the dhol.
Lohri is a popular festival with a deep-rooted significance and legend. While the conventional reason behind this festival is to celebrate the cutting of winter crops and bid adieu to the harsh northern winters, another folklore often attached to Lohri is the legend of 16th century warrior Dulla Bhatti.
Dulla Bhatti is known as the savious of women, who would rescue women from getting sold in the Middle East. According to legend, he saved two women named Sundari and Mundari. They became his daughters; he got them married off.
“Lohri is said to be an auspicious day for couples who are newly married and infants who are to celebrate their first festival,” said Mandeep Singh, founder-director, Across The Globe.
Singh explained how Lohri is a day full of nuances and blessings. “Just like Halloween, children go from door to door asking for sweets on Lohri. If denied, their collective slogan is—“Hukka bhai Hukkaa, Ai ghar bhukka!” (Hukka! Oh! Hukka!..this house is full of misers)!”
The evening is for celebration and worshipping the bonfire, with folk songs sung on various legends.
More than celebrating the day itself, it is the preparatory effort that goes behind celebrating the festival— be it the delicious food or decorations. “We make a point to buy revadi, peanuts and fullia a day before Lohri. On the day of Lohri, a dinner feast is prepared early in the morning itself. We also distribute the prasad to those gathered for the pooja and the dholi,” explained businessman Lakshay Malik.
Lohri also has quirky customs, with smart meanings behind them. In businessman Sagar Dhingra’s family, coins are put into the Lohri bonfire, as a way of worship. “Later, when the bonfire has died down, we collect those coins and put them in our wallet or any other place where we want monitory value to increase. It’s a fun old tradition we follow to get rich, in the disguise of celebration,” said Dhingra.