In my previous post about the popular harvest festivals of India, I have written about Lohri celebrated mostly in the northern part of India. The states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu indulge into the festival celebrated with great vigour and energy. It scientifically marks the end of the winter solstice and arrival of the summer season in India. And traditionally jaggery, sesame etc are fed into a bonfire to erase negativity and usher in positivity in the lives of people. My post comes in a bit late, while India has already celebrated on 13th January the auspicious festival. I pardon my readers for that since was quite tied up in a few medical exigencies. Yet the essence is on and here I bring before you an article on the festival of Lohri 2021. Hope you enjoy reading it.
The History – Lohri 2021
Several myths and tales, relate to the history of Lohri. The most popular one dates back during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar about a person called Dulla Bhatti. He earned great respect among people in saving girls from being sold in the slave markets. Two local girls Sundri and Mundri were quite significant names who were saved by Dulla Bhatti. The names gradually became a part of the folk songs of Punjab.
Another belief is of worshipping the Fire God, Agni of the Hindu mythology. People create a bonfire and dance around it with the beats of the traditional instruments and folk songs. The objective is to shun away the evils and welcome good vibes in the lives of human beings. It also marks the harvest season of sugarcane and other grains. The locals offer various products of sugarcane jaggery along with sesame seeds and other grains to the Fire God. The significance of this activity is to please the God for his blessings and care.
Just like other years, Lohri 2021 was celebrated in India with greath enthusiasm but with COVID 19 precautionary measures in place. Traditionally, in almost all households, people in Punjab and Haryana prepare dishes made of the freshly harvested grains and vegetables. The common delectable recipes being Sarson da Saag (dish made out of mustard greens), Makki di roti (Indian bread made out of corn flour), dishes made of radish and sweets. The main sweet is Gurh or Jaggery made out of sugarcane.
Another popular dish prepared by many is called Til Rice or Tilcholi. Til is the colloquial version for sesame seeds. Sesame seeds, jaggery and puffed rice are mixed together to prepare the dish. Ground nuts and radish are one of the popular crops harvested during the winter season in the northern states of India. The locals consume them too during Lohri.
Songs and Dances
In general, the people of Punjab and Haryana are jovial in nature and love to spend their lives in fun and frolic. Lohri 2021 was in no less devoid of such enjoyment with due restrictions as per the norms of the current pandemic situation.
Folk songs and dances are the heart of Lohri celebrations. Bonfires are lit at many places and people circle round the fire dancing and singing in amusement. It is symbolic in yarding off evils and spread love and positive vibes all around. The songs speak about the tales of Dulla Bhatti and also the Fire God, Agni. In Jammu, a special dance called Chajja is performed where the performer carries the replica of a peacock and dances. Hiran dance is also performed with the mask of a deer (Hiran is the local version of deer).
Children and youngsters especially dance and sing and visit each and every house in the neighbourhood. It is customary for the head of the family to offer sweets and money to them at the end of the performance.
As India celebrated Lohri 2021, it is important to understand the significance of burning fire. Wood and cow dung or mud are used to prepare the fire. The bonfire marks the celebrations of the end of Winter solstice and the arrival of the summer season. Residents of many parts of the world, especially in the US and Europe, would be wondering how come the end of winter when it’s still snowing in their countries. That’s how the seasons are divided into different parts of the world and in India, many parts of the country have already started experiencing the end of the chill part.
You can find bonfires mainly in rural areas. People pray as the fire is lit circling it in groups. Pieces of jaggery, sugarcane, groundnuts, radish and sesame seeds are tossed into the bonfire. Both men and womenfolk sing and dance around the fire till it dies out.
Lohri 2021 will usher in another popular harvest festival of India, Makar Sankranti. We will cover the auspicious festival too on our website. So please watch out!!
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