Essay on Lohri Festival
Lohri is a typical festival of the Punjab, but it has crossed provincial barriers and gained popularity in Haryana, Himachal and Delhi. Lohri is a winter festival and comes off on the 13th of January every year. It is rooted in Punjabi culture and reminds us of the days of impartitioned Punjab. It is a seasonal festival bidding us to enjoy the bounties of winter. It is festive occasion to celebrate the birth of a son or a new wedding.
Even a few days before Lohri, small boys and girls are seen moving about in small groups from door to door asking for Lohri gifts in the form of money, dung-cakes and fire-wood. They go on piling up these things for celebrations on the Lohri day. On the Lohri day, children are to be seen moving about in the streets early in the morning. They stop at every door and sing in chorus the song of Sundri, Mundri and Dulla Bhatthi. One boy takes the lead and others simply respond in chorus. It is indeed a funny song sung in a funny manner. Bevies of girls go about singing a different song. All those songs are in praise of the newly wedded couples and new-born sons. In return, these singers get gifts of coins, boiled or parched maize and Reoris and Chidwas.
The evening is marked by fun and gaiety. Rice gruel and Sarson Ka Saag are the special dishes cooked in every home. A bonfire is lighted at street corners and in happy and blessed homes, Friends, relatives and neighbours are invited to join the celebrations. Women take the lead in singing and dancing. Bazaars are tastefully decorated. Reoris, Chidwas and parched groundnut are much in demand. After dinner, people sit round the fire and eat Reoris, Chidwas and parched groundnuts.
In villages, drinking is quite common on the Lohri festivals. Farmers are happy because of the rich maize, paddy, cotton and sugarcane crops. Many preparations are made from sugarcane juice. Drums are beaten and Bhangra dance is performed. Sugarcanes are heated in the bonfire and they explode like bombs when they are struck on the earth. Hot sugarcanes are munched and it is believed that it cures chronic cough and cold. Lohri is a festival of joy and feasting. It calls upon the people to eat, drink and be merry.
Much is not known about the origin of Lohri. Even then, it is celebrated in the Punjab with great zeal and enthusiasm. Maghi is a sequel of Lohri. It comes the very next day. In Haryana, Maghi is celebrated with greater zeal than Lohri. It is Shakranti or the first day of the Bikrami month of Magh. The rice gruel cooked on the Lohri evening is distributed and eaten on the Maghi morning. It marks the end of fun and gaiety and people set to their work in right earnest with renewed vigor and vitality. A Punjabi is not a Punjabi, if he does not celebrate Lohri. The Punjabis living abroad also celebrate Lohri with equal zeal and fervor.
– Paridhi Khanna