Lohri Date in the current year: January 13, 2022

Lohri Lohri is a midwinter folk festival celebrated primarily in the Punjab region of India. It is a solstice-related holiday that marks the end of winter. Lohri is observed according to the Vikrami calendar (Vikram Samvat) and usually falls around January 13 in the Gregorian calendar.

The first mentions of Lohri in European sources date back to the early 19th century. For example, in 1832, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab invited a group of Englishmen to participate in Lohri celebrations in Lahor.

The accounts of celebrations at the Maharaja’s court don’t contain any information about the origins of the festival. However, it is believed that Lohri has been celebrated in the Himalayan region since ancient times. It is one of the many winter solstice celebrations from around the globe. However, Lohri falls in mid-January rather than around December 21 because it is observed on the last day of the month during which the winter solstice occurs according to the Vikrami calendar.

Like most other winter solstice festivals, Lohri is primarily associated with bonfires, which symbolize the victory of the warmth over the cold, light over darkness, and spring over winter. People put on their best clothes to dance and sing around the bonfire to the sound of dhols (Indian drums). It is also customary to throw sesame seeds, nuts and sweets into the fire, symbolically burning the old year and welcoming the new one.

In Punjab, Lohri is also associated with Dulla Bhatti (sometimes spelled Dulha Bhatti). Dulla Bhatti was a folk hero who led a revolt against the Mughal emperor Akbar. He is often referred as the “Robin Hood of Punjab” because Bhatti and his men took from the rich and gave to the poor. He is particularly remembered for saving young women from slavery.

There are numerous folk songs about Bhatti that are sung in Punjab during Lohri celebrations. This tradition is somewhat similar to Christmas caroling in the Western world: during the day, children go from door to door singing songs about Bhatti’s deeds in return for sweets, snacks and sometimes money.

In addition to being a winter solstice celebration, Lohri is also a harvest festival. Important crops that are harvested in Punjab during this season include corn, sugarcane, nuts, radish, and mustard greens. Because of this, it is customary to eat roasted corn, gur (jaggery), gajak (a dessert made of sesame seeds and jaggery), and sarson ka saag (a traditional dish made of mustard greens) with makki ki roti (cornmeal flatbread).

Lohri is widely observed in the Indian states of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Jarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Interestingly, it is celebrated by Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs alike. Outside India, the festival is celebrated in Lahore, Faisalabad, and rural areas of the Punjab province of Pakistan. Lohri is an official holiday in some Indian states, but it has no official status in Pakistan.

Lohri is related to a traditional festival known by many names such as Maghi, Makar Sangranti, Uttarayan, Maghe Sankranti or simply Sankranti, as well as to the Tamil festival of Pongal. Both are celebrated the day after Lohri, i.e. on January 14 in the Gregorian calendar.

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Category

Folk Festivals

Country

India

Tags

Lohri, holidays in India, folk festivals, harvest festival, winter solstice festival