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India is indeed a land of festivals. It is very difficult for anyone to think of a month or season that can go by without the celebration of a festival. While the magnitude and nature of these festivals vary from region to region, the essence of festivity and mutual harmony remains unaltered.
In the context of this, it would have really been surprising had the agricultural state or nation not indulged itself in a harvest festival. After all, harvest is the time when one is grateful for all that he or she has received.
It is with reference to this that the vibrant states of Punjab and Haryana engage in the festival of Lohri. The significance of this festival is listed below.
Etymology Of Lohri
The origin of the word Lohri has many tales to its credit. While the first explanation says that it is derived from the word ‘loh', which in turn means iron. These thick iron sheet tawas are used in the preparation of condiments for this festival and it is from here that the festival gets its name from. Folklore says that there once lived two siblings by the names of Holika and Lohri. While the former perished in the Holi fire, Lohri survived. This festival is in celebration of her surviving the same.
India is an agricultural country. This is all the way truer in the case of the fertile lands of Punjab and Haryana. In these places, the best celebration that one can think of is the one that takes into consideration all the hard work that has been invested into producing a good harvest. Lohri is that festival which celebrates the same and that is why it holds a special significance in the hearts of all Punjabis.
Fostering Cultural Integrity Among The Next Generation
An essential part of the festival of Lohri is the part where children go door to door singing folk songs. Because of their singing, they are rewarded with jaggery, nuts, money and these days even chocolates. Since there is an incentive involved, children are keen on participating in the same. By doing so, they learn a lot about their culture and values, which in turn helps in character building. Hence, this festival has a very important role to play in a traditional Punjabi household.
A Time For Bonding
The festival of Lohri is one that involves the men and women of the house coming together to perform Punjabi folk dances. A bonfire is set up around which they perform. While women perform Giddha, it is the men who go for Bhangra. As the singing, dancing and merry-making goes on well into the night, people throw gachak, rewri, popcorn and peanut into the bonfire to keep it burning. All of this fosters the feeling of communal harmony among the people.
With the Indians always being very conscious about what they eat and ensuring that it is nothing less than the best, it is obvious that the festive period is one where people would go the extra mile to have the best of food on their platter. Thus, the significance of this harvest festival cannot be emphasized more without talking of the sarson da saag, makki di roti and kheer, which make up the quintessence of this festival.
Offerings To The Sun God
All of us are aware that for proper harvest to take place, the presence of appropriate sunshine is an absolute necessity. Hence, this festival holds a special significance, as it celebrates the same. People believe that by making offerings to the Sun God, they will be able to please him, which in turn will stimulate the growth of the corn fields. Ultimately, all of this will lead to the well-being of man and animals.
The Chilly Winters
Lohri is celebrated in the mid of January. It is during this time that the sun makes a move from Capricorn and moves up North. This may be called Uttarayan in astronomical terms. This is the time when the chill of winter is at its peak. It is the cold winters which form the basis of all the bonfire-centric festivities associated with Lohri.
By eating to their full and doing well to the others, the festival of Lohri instills a feeling of satisfaction among the people. This is another major significance of this festival. During Lohri, people celebrating the same feel much more at peace with themselves. In fact, Sikhs and Punjabis enjoy chanting the Guru Granth Sahib and meditating before the Lohri fire.