The history of Lohri dates back to the story of Indus Valley civilization. Though there are different stories related to the origin of Lohri, it is mainly celebrated as a harvest festival. The festival is celebrated to mark the end of winter and the upcoming spring. Bonfires are lit, traditional songs and dances accompany the fire in the evening. Lohri is celebrated basically in Punjab, but can be seen in Haryana, Delhi and parts of Himachal Pradesh as well. This North-Indian festival coincides with Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Magha Bihu in Assam and Tai Pongal in Kerala. There is an interesting cultural history behind this fun-filled festival. To know more on the history of Lohri, read the article further.
History Of Lohri Festival
Various interesting socio-cultural fables and folk legends are associated with Lohri. The cultural history of this festival centers about a Rajput tribe called Bhatti, during the reign of Akbar in the inhabited parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat. Raja of Pindi Bhattian, Dulla Bhatti, was sentenced to death by the Mughal king for revolting against him. The history of the tribe is traced by the tribal Mirasis (street singers), who claim that Maharaja Ranjit Singh is one of their scions.
Dulla Bhatti was a Punjabi version of Robin Hood, who used to rob the rich and help the poor. He was loved and respected by the tribal people. It is also said that he once rescued a girl from the kidnappers, after which he adopted her as his daughter. This hero is remembered every year on this festival. On the occasion, children in groups move from door to door and sing the Dulla Bhatti song:
Dulla Bhatti ho!
Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho!
Ser shaker pai ho!
(Dulla gave his daughter a kilo of sugar as a marriage gift).
A festival dedicated to fire and the sun God, Lohri is the time when the sun transits the zodiac sign Makar (Capricorn) and starts moving towards the north. This is referred to as the sun becoming Uttarayan in astrological terms. The new arrangement is believed to lessen the ferocity of winter and bring warmth to earth. The festival is observed to ward off the biting cold of the month of January by lighting bonfires, dancing around it in a mood of bonhomie.
One can correlate fire with the concept of life and health. It is a symbol of transformation and regeneration. Fire is related with rays of light on one hand and with gold on the other hand, since it is the representative of the sun. People believe that the fire is capable of stimulating the growth of cornfields and the well-being of man and animals. Lohri fire gets sanctified and venerated like a deity; reason being it is an image of energy and spiritual strength. People offer peanuts, popcorn and sweets like til ladoo, chirva, gajak and gajak to the fire to proliferate it as a symbol of the Sun God.