Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lohri – The Bonfire festival

Northern January is immensely cold, there’s fog and everything seems rather at a standstill but one thing brilliant about nature is that the fields look promising and is a good enough reason to celebrate as it is also the resting period before the cutting of crops. It is also customary to celebrate this festival with pomp and joy for newly weds; houses blessed with a newborn baby or infact any happy event in the family. For agriculturists it is also the beginning of a new financial year. It sure is enticing to find an apparent wave of activity going on amongst People for Lohri celebrations- the long-awaited bonfire festival, which is celebrated on the 13th of January every year. Interestingly at the same time “Pongal” is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, “Bihu” in Assam, “Bhogi” in Andhra Pradesh “Sankranti” in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and “Utraan” in Gujrat.

 “ De Mai Lodi, Jeeve teri Jodi”, “ Sundar munderiya ho. tera kaun vichara ho. Dulha bhatti waal aho…”etc can be heard in the morning on Lohri day as it’s a ritual for children to demand “Lohri” from elders in the form of money, sweets, peanuts, Gajak, Sesame seed Rewadi, popcorn, jaggery etc. Interestingly “ Dulha Bhatti Waala” was the Punjabi Robin Hood and that is the reason children sing his praises as a custom on Lohri as he was also known to have saved the life of a girl and giving her in marriage as his own sister”. The main event in the evening is making of a huge bonfire, which is symbolic of the homage to the Sun God for bringing in warmth around which people sing and dance and throw puffed rice, Lohri related sweets etc in the fire that sanctifies one’s endeavor for a good life on the one hand and destroys evil spirits on the other.

The celebrations generate a lot of bonhomie as family and friends sit around the bonfire, singing, dancing and praying for prosperity, while making offerings of peanuts, jaggery, popcorn, beaten rice and Sesame seed gajak to the rising flames.