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Lohri: Date, Origin and Rituals of Lohri

Lohri is a very popular festival which is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Delhi. Lohri is celebrated every year on 13th January in the month of Paush or Magha just one day before Makar Sankranti when the Sun changes its course. Lohri has its own importance as it represents the end of winter season on the last of Paush and beginning of new month Magha.

Lohri is a festival that unites people and spread the words of love all around. Firstly it was only celebrated by sikhs but now many Hindu people have also started celebrating Lohri.

When is "Lohri" in 2013

Lohiri will be celebrated on 13th January in year 2013.

Origin of "Lohri":

Lohri starts as a celebration of the auspicious eve of Winter Solstice. It is associated with the worship of the sun and fire and is observed by all communities with different names, as Lohri is an exclusively Punjabi festival.According to the myths,it is believed that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Sant Kabir, and hence, it is pronounced as Lohi inrural Punjab. Others beliefs state that Lohri comes from the word 'loh', a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapattis for community feasts. Another legend believes that Holika and Lohri were sisters. Holika was perished in the Holi fire Lohri was survived. Eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is considered to be essential on this day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri. But it is somewhat related with the tale of Dulla Bhatti. Dulha Batti was a Muslim robber and he has characteristics which are very much similar to Robin Hood, who lived during the era of King Akbar. He was a robber but a very good person by heart. He use to steal from the rich and then he distributes the wealth among the poor. He rescued girls who were being forcibly taken away or kidnapped. He also use to arranged marriages of young girls with Hindu Boys and paid the dowries. He was a hero among the local Punjabis and they love him very much. Therefore, most Lohri songs are sung in praise of Dulha Batti which expresses their gratitude to him.

Lohri - Its Significances:

Lohri has its own significances. It marks the sun's entry in to the 'Makar Rashi' (northern hemisphere) which represents the period, beginning from 14 January lasting till 14 July,.This period is also known as "Uttarayan". It is also the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. According to the beliefs of Bhagwat Geeta, it is an extremely sacred and auspicious time, when Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly. And so, across India, people celebrate this month and the prodigious harvest which it brings with itself. It is celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Lohri - Its rituals and customs:

In Lohri celebartions, traditional bhangra dance and singing plays a very important role in maintaining the traditional rituals and customs of Lohri. People wear traditional clothes and enjoy local special dishes of Punjab like makki ki roti and sarson ka saag. Lohri is a special occasion which not only marks the harvesting season but is also a time when people get to meet their loved ones and spare a few moments of joy from their hectic schedules.On the auspicious day of Lohri, children go from door to door to collect funds for community. In return, children are offered either money or gajak, til bhuga, moong phali, gur and rewri. In the evening, a bonfire is lit, then winter savories are served around the bonfire and everyone gathers around it. Munchies, collected from each house are thrown into the fire. If there has been a happy event in the family during the elapsed year like the birth of a male child or marriage, then the festival assumes greater significance. The Family hosts the celebration by arranging bone fire for their relatives. Bhangra, dhol, gidda and light-hearted flirtation rein the overall scenario. A delicious dinner along with liquor is offered to the close ones. It is also believed that if any guest member seeks a roasted radish from the bone fire, then blessings are bestowed on the family of the seeker as well.

Lohri - in present scenario:

In present scenario, people have combined the celebration of Lohri with a bit of modernization. Now days, people are gifting chocolate cakes and chocolate ghajaks instead of gifting til and moonfalis. Due to increasing awareness of environment protection, people are avoiding cutting of trees for lighting the bonfire and they are trying to compensate the loss of trees by planting new trees. But, apart from modernization, the glory of Lohri is still maintained in Punjab. Lohri is more than just a festival, especially for the people of Punjab. Lohri is a symbol of their love for celebrations and light-hearted flirtations and exhibition of exuberance.

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