Lohri Festival, India

Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Lohri primarily in Punjab, on the Indian subcontinent. Every year, the festival occurs when the lunisolar Bikrami calendar's solar part falls on the night preceding Makar Sankranti.

It is believed that the festival of Lohri originated from several stories. The Himalayas are said to have influenced the festival through their colder winters than the rest of the country. Around a bonfire, people would celebrate the waning days of winter and the promise of spring after weeks of harvesting the Rabi crop. Surya is also the deity of the festival, as this is the day when devotees expect the sun deity to return after the long winter days and plead with it for warmth and light.

Lohri celebrations are also attributed to the story of ‘Dulla Bhatti,’ a Punjabi hero who saved people during the reign of Akbar. During his time as a youth, he helped save a group of girls from slavery. Punjabi legends are deeply rooted in his heroic deeds, which have been passed down through the generations. As a part of Lohri, a song and dance concert is conducted in his honor.

It is a festival of fire that commemorates Lohri with its traditional bonfire every year. People gather at a commonplace and prepare a huge bonfire on which sweet delicacies are displayed for eating together, unlike most Indian festivals, which see people visiting family and friends and giving sweets or distributing them.

This festival in Punjab is celebrated by eating freshly harvested corn sheaves. Many sugarcane products are used during this time since the January sugarcane harvest is also winding down during this season. These include gurh and gachak. A lot of people gather on this day to dance and enjoy the hospitality and warmth of the fire. In addition, some people decorate their homes during Lohri with lighting and bhangra moves.

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