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Lohri - My favourite festivals

Lohri is one of my favourite festivals and I miss celebrating it.

Lohri is a popular South Asian bonfire festival and seasonal celebration which originated in Punjab, north India. Celebrated on the January the 13th, Lohri marks the end of winter and the harvest of the rabi crops. The festival’s ancient origins can be traced to folk reverence of the gods Agni(fire) and Surya(sun). It is celebrated primarily by Hindus, Sikhs, Punjabi. After the dark winter nights, people like to deck up in colourful traditional attires, sing and dance Bhangra around the bonfire, welcoming the longer and warmer days. The folklore of Lohri is deeply linked with the tale of Dulla Bhatti, a Robin Hood-type character who stole from the rich to help the poor and is the central theme in almost every Lohri song.

The first Lohri is considered very auspicious for a new bride and a newborn baby, as it marks fertility. The festival also holds great importance for farmers. According to the Indian calendar, Lohri falls in the month of Pausha and is followed by the festival of kites, Makar Sankranti which falls on the 14th or 15th January.

On the morning of Lohri, kids go from door-to-door singing and asking for money, sweets and peanuts. They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti. Small idols of Lohri goddess are made with cattle dung and the bonfire is lit beneath them at sunset. People gather in their traditional attires and circle bonfires, throwing sesame seeds, monkey nuts or peanuts, makhana(lotus seeds), jaggery, and Rewari (sesame candies) in it. They sit around the fire, sing and dance till the fire dies out. People exchange greetings and gifts with their friends and family members. Sugarcane products such as gajak, jaggery are an important part of Lohri celebrations, as these are made from the crops harvested in the month of January. Apart from this sesame seeds(til), peanuts, lotus seeds and popcorn are also distributed among the people as offerings. The festivities end with the traditional sumptuous dinner of Makki ki Roti (Corn flour flatbreads) and Sarson ka Saag (mustard greens).

Wishing you a very Happy Lohri!

Author - Richa Dhingra

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