Lohri 2024: Date, history, significance, celebration of harvest festival - Hindustan Times
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Lohri 2024: Date, history, significance and celebration of Punjab’s harvest festival

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Jan 13, 2024 11:00 AM IST

Lohri 2024: Here's all you need to know about the date, history, significance and celebration of Lohri - Punjab and North India’s harvest festival

Primarily celebrated by the people of Sikh and Hindu communities in the Punjab or North region of the Indian subcontinent, Lohri is a popular harvest festival of the farmers that is observed a night before Makar Sankranti and is also a traditional winter folk festival that commemorates the passing of the Winter Solstice while looking forward to longer days ahead as the sun journeys towards the northern hemisphere. Lohri is that point in time when the Earth is closest to the sun hence, the festival marks receding of the winters and the beginning of a new harvest season.

Lohri 2024: Date, history, significance and celebration of Punjab’s harvest festival (Photo by Bachchan Kumar/ HT PHOTO)
Lohri 2024: Date, history, significance and celebration of Punjab’s harvest festival (Photo by Bachchan Kumar/ HT PHOTO)

Date:

In accordance with the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar or as per the Hindu solar calendar, Lohri falls in the Paush month. This year, it will fall on January 14, as per the Gregorian calendar.

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History and significance:

The main winter crop of Punjab, wheat, is sown in October and is seen at its prime in January across the fields of the Indian state. The crop is then later harvested in March but after weeks of harvesting the Rabi crop, people would gather around a bonfire and celebrate the passing of the winter solstice and the promise of the coming spring season as Lohri in January.

Another special significance attached to the celebration of Lohri is that on this day, the sun enters the Rashi (zodiac) of Makara (Capricorn) which is considered auspicious as it signifies a fresh start. A few accounts attribute the origin of the festival to the Himalayan mountain region where the winters are colder than the rest of the country.

A legend attributes the celebration of Lohri to the tale of ‘Dulla Bhatti’ who was a local hero of the Punjab region and during the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, worked as a saviour of the people and was considered the ‘Robin Hood’ of Punjab as he would steal from the rich to provide for the poor. He famously saved a group of young girls from being sold into slavery.

He would arrange the girls’ marriages to the village boys and provided them with dowry from the stolen loot. Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye.

His deeds have been passed down as a legend and are deeply inculcated in the Punjabi folklore. On Lohri, ‘Dulla Bhatti’ is celebrated and various songs and dances are performed in his honour.

As per Punjabi folklore, the folk song, Sunder Mundriye has a special place in the hearts of women who have grown up hearing the stories of Dulla Bhatti or Abdullah of Pindi Bhattian. The song goes like this:

Sunder munderiye ho! (Beautiful girl)

Tera kaun vichaara ho! (Who will remember you?)

Dullah Bhatti walla ho! (Dullah of the Bhatti clan!)

The festival is also dedicated to the sun deity, Surya, as on this day the devotees expect it's returning after the cold winter days and ask it for warmth and sunshine.

Celebrations:

Each year the festival of Lohri is celebrated with the traditional bonfire. Along with offering prayers to the Gods for a healthy harvest which has brought prosperity to the families, people also offer peanuts, gur ki rewari and makhana (fox nuts) to the bonfire, and then dance around it while singing popular folk songs. This is as an act to please the fire deity.

Unlike most festivals in India which witness people visiting family and friends and distributing sweets etc, Lohri celebrations are marked by people gathering at a common place and setting up a huge bonfire with various kinds of sweet delicacies on display for eating together. The vibe turns completely joyous when everybody dances to the beats of dhol and the celebration is incomplete without the energetic moves of Bhangra and Gidda.

People decorate their homes and dives into the scrumptious feast served as Lohri is all about toasting traditional gaiety and fervour, relishing delectable food and putting your best foot forward when you step out. In Punjab, the festival is celebrated by eating sheaves of roasted corn from the new harvest and since the January sugarcane harvest also wraps up during this time, many sugarcane products such as gurh and gachak are central to the celebration food.

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