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. In 2018, it falls on a day Saturday.
For Punjabi's, more than just a festival, Lohri is also an example of a way of life. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather around the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular songs and exchange greetings.
On this day children go from door to door to collect funds for community bonfires which are lit up in the evening. The gatherings and celebrations make Lohri a community festival.
An extremely auspicious day, Lohri marks the sun's entry in to the 'Makar Rashi' (northern hemisphere). The period, beginning from 14 January lasting till 14 July, is known as Uttarayan. It is also the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. The festival marks the winter solstice and is the day of celebrations. Astronomically after Lohri, the length of days starts increasing as the sun begins to progress northwards. The Bhagawad Gita deems it an extremely sacred and auspicious time, when Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly. And so, across India, people celebrate the month and the prodigious harvest it brings - Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA
Lohri is seen as a deep connection to the Punjabi culture. In Indian movies, whenever Punjabi culture is presented, Lohri remains a prime event for them.
As soon the Lohri festival nears, 'Lo aa gai Lohri ve… Banaa lo Jodi ve…', the signature song from the Movie “Veer Zara” moons our mind and we immediately get transported into the cheerful fantasies of bonfire, dance, music and fanfare!
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki ki roti and sarson ka saag is quintessential. The prasad comprises of six main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolises a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.
The festivities of Lohri observe kids visiting every house and singing Lohri songs. These Lohri folk songs are quite popular and have their own appeal, especially among the older people. It is a tradition to distribute sweets to these kids; in some cases people give money as well. Young boys and girls also get a chance to choose their life partners during lohri festivities, while the new bride or new child in the family makes Lohri celebration even more special.
The festival though connected to Punjabi roots is seen to widen its presence and is celebrated with all the joy and fervor in Rajasthan. It’s a nice warm way to say good bye to the harsh winters of north India.