Lohri: The famous Punjabi festival celebrated across the globe
India is known worldwide for its diversified cultures. And Indian festivals serve as the paradigm to represent this. Being a constitution of 28 states and 9 union territories, people celebrate these festivals with all zeal and zest. Lohri is one such festival, celebrated with grandeur by the people of Punjab. This festival marks an ending to the winter season and is celebrated to bid farewell to the winter solstice. The rabi crop ripens up for the harvest and farmers gets prepared for the next crop season. According to Hindu calendar, Lohri falls on Saptami of Krishn paksh in the month of Paush (generally mid of January every year). Lohri 2023 will be celebrated on 14th January. Though being a festival of Punjab, Indians take special pride in celebrating it as Indians. So, whether a Punjabi or a non-Punjabi, Lohri is the festival of all nowadays. All one needs to know is its importance and be in fervor to be a part of the festival, and it belongs to you.
There is a tradition and ritual, that is followed to celebrate it. While celebrating Lohri, the family members and others sit around the fire, lit like a bonfire. Fire is the main element of the ritual, and; people have to take seven rounds around it to pay respect to it. Or to understand this in simple Hindi language, people take “Agni Pheras”. And the ritual does not only call for revolving around the fire but people have to chant a mantra or the “Gayatri Mantra” when taking pheras. After each round, people sacrifice a mixture made up of five edible elements. They offer this to the Agni devta, chanting “swaha” at the end of each phera. They call this sacrifice or offering an “aahuti”. So, seven times they make this offering to the god of fire.
Children are more excited to join the festivities once the elders have performed all the rituals and customs attached to Lohri; the small ones play, sing, and dance with their friends and family. Everyone participates in the celebration and enjoys the festival with all its colors. The fire provides a soothing relief from the winter season and it becomes pleasing to sit around the fire and enjoy the festival’s events. The mixture left after performing the ritual gets divided among the people attending. This portion of the mixture, called “Prasad” is accepted with all due respect to the god of fire. The festival of Lohri holds special significance for newly born and newlyweds. The Hindu culture has placed special religious meaning on marriage and the bride is welcomed into the family and asked to take blessings from god for a good married life. So, both the bride’s and groom’s families arrange parties to celebrate the pious union.
Huge parties are thrown by inviting a long list of guests especially if there is a newborn or a new bride in the family, and if it is their very first festival as a family with them. After the ritual is performed in a customized manner, the relatives and guests relish food and drinks. Lohri provides people an opportunity to organize get together and enjoy each other’s company. Guests coming to the festival enjoy good company, and grand dinners, and bring beautiful gifts and presents for the newborns or newlyweds. The festival of Lohri is ages old tradition and the history is so old that now Punjabi families celebrate it worldwide. People pray, eat and enjoy the festival by taking blessings from the Agni devta and the festivities culminate by being grateful to the god of fire.