The auspicious festival of Lohri is celebrated by Sikh (Punjabi) community in the month of January. Explore details about date, history, significance and celebrations in India.
Lohri is an exceptionally popular folk festival celebrated during the winter season in the northern part of India. It is believed to mark the end of the winter solstice. In other words, Lohri honours the passing of winter and welcomes the longer days along with the journey of the sun to the North Hemisphere. It is generally observed the night before Makar Sankranti or Maghi. The stories prevalent about Lohri associate this festival to Punjab.
At present, Lohri is primarily about bonfires, food baskets, and shaking the hips to the tunes of hit Bollywood songs. But are you aware of the meaning of the holy bonfire and why exactly people take rounds around it after sunset? Well, it represents the importance of paying gratitude to God. On the auspicious day, black sesame seeds or til, popcorn, jaggery or gajak, and peanuts are fed to the bonfire to begin the harvest ritual. Providing food to the fire is said to eliminate negativity and bring in utmost prosperity.
Walking around the bonfire brings fortune. Most devotees believe that their concerns and prayers will receive an instant answer and their lives will be filled with renewed joy.
Lohri is noted as the harvest festival of Punjab. It indicates the starting of the new year for the Punjabi farmers. The farmers pray to Lord Agni and exhibit appreciation for the crops. They want Lord Agni to bless their land with substantial abundance. The farmers chant ‘Aadar Aye Dilather Jaye’. It means let honour come and poverty disappear.
Lohri festival is not complete without good foods. The authentic recipes people prepare include makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, gur ki roti, pindi channe, gur ka halwa, til ki barfi, til ki chikki, and spicy chole bhature.
Lohri is an authorized holiday in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and the Jammu area of Jammu & Kashmir. Even though the festival is also celebrated in Haryana and Delhi, it is not recognised as an official holiday out there.
Lohri Date in 2024
In the year 2024, Lohri will be celebrated on January 14. The festival is linked to Vikrami Calendar. Lohri falls in the Pausha (December/January) month. In almost all years, the festival falls around January 13/14, according to the Gregorian Calendar.
History and Origin of Lohri
If you wish to know the history and origin of Lohri festival, you must acquaint yourself with Dulla Bhatti. On the first week of January, young boys ring doorbells of the houses in their neighbourhood to sing the songs about Dulla Bhatti. In return, the boys get peanuts, popcorn, sesame seeds, jaggery, crystal sugar, and money. Turning them empty-handed is considered ominous.
Dulla Bhatti is a Muslim robber who resided in Punjab during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Apart from robbing the wealthy people, Dulla rescued the Hindu girls from being taken to the Middle East’s slave market. He married them to Hindu boys, adhering to Hindu rituals. Although a bandit, Dulla Bhatti became the hero to all Punjabis. So, each Lohri song thanks Dulla.
Some individuals believe that Lohri is derived from the name of Sant Kabir’s wife, Loi. Others believe the festival got its name from ‘Loh’ – a thick iron utensil used to bake chapattis for the community feasts. According to a legend, Lohri and Holika were sisters. While the latter vanished in Holi fire, the former somehow survived. Eating sesame seeds (til) and jaggery (rorhi) is essential. The words til and rorhi are utilized to make the word tilohri, and it was later condensed into the word, Lohri.
Significance of Lohri Festival
Lohri holds an extremely special significance since it marks the harvest of rabi crops and the passing of winter days. As specified in the previous sections, people worship the fire and sun, and thank them for a prosperous harvest. The day is generally observed with different names by different communities.
Lohri is believed to be quite auspicious for a new born baby and a new bride because the festival epitomizes fertility. Lohri is of huge importance for the farmers. According to the Hindu Calendar, the festivals falls in Pausha month and is then followed by Makar Sankranti, the festival of the kites.
The tradition of lighting a bonfire during Lohri has been prevalent since time immemorial. Punjabi farmers light bonfires near their homes post rabi cropping season. They are joined by other farmers, and everyone dance and sing together.
Lohri 2024 Celebrations
Preparations for the festival start almost a month ago. Kids collect wood and sticks that their parents can burn during bonfire. Homes are decorated with swings and special treats are cooked. The main prasad is a mix of six ingredients - til, gur, gajak, phuliya, moongphali, and popcorn. This prasad is offered to people as a blessing.
In the evening, people put on ethnic clothes and light bonfires in fully harvested fields. They go around the fire, and throw munchies as a tribute to Lord Agni. They request Lord Agni to bring success and banish poverty. They also perform traditional Punjabi dances – Giddha and Bhangra. After the fire fades, everyone enjoys dinner.
How Lohri is Celebrated in Different Parts of India?
Amritsar celebrates Lohri with great pomp and show. People wear new outfits and visit the Golden Temple to eat langar and seek blessing. They also fly kites, which is believed to be a significant part of Lohri in Amritsar.
Since Delhi is the capital state, it celebrates all the festivals with immense happiness. Lohri is no exception. You will notice long lines outside all shops a day or two before the festival. People remain busy gathering sweets and the necessary decorations. Gurudwaras in Delhi cook langar and the meals are served to everyone.
As already mentioned in this article, Lohri is the chief festival of Punjab. People wear their brightest attire and dance to the dhol beats. Multiple sports competitions and cultural programmes are arranged in various parts. You may try authentic Punjabi dishes too during Lohri.
Did you know the people of Himachal Pradesh also celebrates Lohri with amazing enthusiasm? People purchase new clothes that they can wear in the evening of the festival. Women and men dance to traditional music. Huge fairs are organised to enhance the celebration furthermore.
People in Haryana, Chandigarh, and Jammu also celebrate Lohri with great traditional fervour and gaiety.
Lohri Festival Dates (2020 - 2030)
|2020||14 January (Tuesday)|
|2021||13 January (Wednesday)|
|2022||13 January (Thursday)|
|2023||14 January (Saturday)|
|2024||14 January (Sunday)|
|2025||13 January (Monday)|
|2026||13 January (Tuesday)|
|2027||14 January (Thursday)|
|2028||14 January (Friday)|
|2029||13 January (Saturday)|
|2030||13 January (Sunday)|