I have beautiful childhood memories of Lohri. My family and I would visit Delhi in the winter and Lohri was a big part of our holiday celebrations. We would all gather at my aunt’s house and there would be a huge bonfire and plates full of popcorn, rewri (sesame encrusted sweets), gajak (made with peanuts and gur) and moongphali (groundnuts) passed around. The kids would be running around the fire stuffing their mouths with popcorn instead of putting it in the fire and singing these two lines. The entire song was too long for us. My children do pretty much the same thing now!
Sunder mundriye ho! Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho! Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
When And Why Do We Celebrate Lohri?
This community festival celebrated on 13th January each year marks the end of the cold winter and the beginning of spring. Lohri celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti is the longest night of the year. The entire Punjabi community across the world likes to celebrate the first festival of the year with great enthusiasm. Since this was traditionally a farmers festival, the popcorn, rewri and moongphali put in the fire symbolize a prayer to the Fire God for abundant crops and prosperity.
But there are some other stories that explain the lines w sing when we wal around the fire.
Dulla Bhatti was popular among the poor, akin to Robin Hood, at the time of Mughal king Akbar. He used to plunder the rich community and distribute the loot among the poor and needy. This made him famous and revered among the populace. As the legend goes, he once saved a girl from the hands of kidnappers and then took care of her like his own daughter.
Which one did you grow up listening to?
The Traditions We Follow To Celebrate The Bonfire Festival
Lohri is today and you can normally see stacks of wood being piled up, all ready for the traditional bonfires that will burn at every corner in North India. The markets are abuzz with everyone thronging to pick up all the goodies. But with the cases spiralling the way they are, I don’t think the big community fires will happen this year.
But we will still do our traditional Lohri bonfire with just the family members. I have just returned with bags full of popcorn, rewri, gajak and moongphali. The kids are already excited about the bonfire festival where they get to dress up, sing and dance and basically have a blast Punju style.
You can listen to some Lohri songs here.
A Special Lohri For the New Born Baby Or The New Bride in Your Family
And if there is a new-born baby or a new bride in the family, then the celebrations take on a bigger form. The newborn baby and the new mother are dressed in their finest and showered with blessings and gifts by everyone. This festival marks the beginning of the new year for everyone and is a symbol of fertility too. As per tradition, the baby’s maternal grandparents send clothes, rewri, gajak, til ke ladoo and popcorn to their daughter’s house. The dholwalas are called to add zing to the celebrations and the sound of the drums fill the air. The family and friends dance to the tunes of the ‘Bhangra or Gidda’ around the fire. It’s an evening full of merrymaking and good old Punjabi style dancing.
Everyone knows how much Punjabis love their food – ma ki daal (kali dal), gobi alu ki sabzi , makki ki roti and sarson ka saag are part of the elaborate traditional menu. No alcohol or non-vegetarian food is consumed on Lohri.
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It’s a great way for the family and community to get together and celebrate the New Year.
Wishing everyone celebrating Lohri health and happiness all across the world.