Lohri is a traditional winter folk festival in North India, as well as a popular harvest celebration for farmers that takes place the night before Makar Sankranti. As the sun comes closer to the northern hemisphere, it signals the conclusion of the Winter Solstice and the start of longer days.
Lohri signifies the end of the winters and the start of a new harvest season since the Earth is closest to the sun at this time. It is mainly celebrated by Sikh and Hindu groups in the Punjab area of India.
Wheat, Punjab’s principal winter crop, is seeded in October and is at its peak in January across the Indian state’s fields. After weeks of harvesting the Rabi crop, people would congregate around a campfire to rejoice in the passing of the winter solstice and the promise of the impending spring season called Lohri in January.
According to mythology, the Lohri festival is based on account of ‘Dulla Bhatti,’ a Punjabi hero who, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar, served as a people’s rescuer and was dubbed the ‘Robin Hood of Punjab’ because he would steal from the powerful to help the poor. He was well-known for freeing a group of young girls from enslavement.
He would marry the girls off to local males and give them dowries from the looted money. Sundri and Mundri, who became known as Sunder Mundriye in Punjab legend, were among these girls.
His actions have become legends and are firmly ingrained in Punjabi tradition. ‘Dulla Bhatti’ is commemorated on Lohri, and numerous songs and dances are done in his honour.
According to Punjabi legend, the folk song Sunder Mundriye holds a unique place in ladies’ hearts who grew up hearing stories of Dulla Bhatti or Abdullah of Pindi Bhattian.
The festival is also devoted to the sun deity, Surya, as followers await its return after the chilly winter days and seek warmth and brightness on this day.
The traditional Lohri bonfire is lit every year to commemorate the holiday of Lohri. Along with praying to the Gods for a bountiful crop that has brought wealth to the family, people throw peanuts, gur ki rewari, and makhana (fox nuts) into the blaze and dance around it while singing traditional folk songs. This is an act performed to honour the fire deity.