LOHRI-PUNJABI FOLK FESTIVAL
Lohri is a popular winter time folk festival, celebrated by Punjabi people of both the Sikh faith and the Hindu faith. ‘Lohri’ is celebrated on 13th of January, one day before ‘Makar Sankranti’. Lohri marks the end of winter season, in the northern regions of India. This festivity holds great significance for a farmer. Since the traditional time to harvest crops is January, therefore, Lohri is seen as a harvest festival. Lohri coincides with the harvest festivals of ‘Pongal’ and ‘Bhogi’. In Andhra Pradesh, the day preceding Makara Sankranti is called ‘Bhogi’ and in Tamil Nadu, the preceding day of ‘Thai Pongal’ is known as ‘Bhogi’. During ‘Bhogi’ festival, people residing in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu burn old and derelict things. Just before sunrise, people light a bonfire outdoors with logs of wood and other wooden items that are no longer useful. This signifies the fact that unwanted habits, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the fire of the knowledge known as ‘Rudra’.
This represents a transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing divine virtues.
The Lohri festivity: The festivity is usually outdoors and a bonfire is lit in the main village square at sunset. People wear bright and new clothes. Sesame, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are thrown into the fire. Some Hindus pour milk and water around the bonfire to thank the Sun God and seek his continued protection. A prayer is made to the ‘Agni’ and few people go around the fire. Singing and dancing are an intrinsic part of Lohri celebrations. People dance the ‘bhangra’ and ‘gidda’ to the beat of the ‘dhol’. Later, ‘Prasad’ is distributed among the people.
As a part of Lohri celebrations, children go from door to door singing the traditional folk songs of Lohri. These children are usually given sweets, snacks and money. These collections gathered by the children are known as ‘Lohri Loot’ and consists of Sesame, Jaggery, Peanuts, etc. This 'Lohri Loot’ is then distributed at night and some are also thrown into the fire.