The festival of Lohri falls on 13 January, a day before Makar Sankranti (another Hindu festival) when the sun enters into the new sign. It is a popular harvest festival celebrated in the Northern part of India, mainly in Punjab and Haryana. Harvest time for wheat, the main winter crop, starts after the celebration of Lohri. It marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of a new season for the farmers.
More than a festival; Lohri is a day for thanksgiving. Apart from Punjab and Haryana, people from other states have also started participating in the festivity. On this day, people show their gratitude to God for his provisions, care, protection and blessings.
The day begins with Lohri songs full of gratitude for God and ‘Dulla Bhatti’, a legendary hero. Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber, who robbed rich and helped the poor, is the central character of Lohri songs. On this day, children go door to door in the neighbourhood to accept money and food items as gifts. In the afternoon, people prepare a feast for the day, in the evening, people wear new clothes and they gather around huge bonfire which is lit in the harvested fields or in the front yard of their houses. They go around the bonfire thrice and present peanuts, rewari, puffed rice, butter, sesame seeds and popcorns as offerings to the God. They pray to God to bless the land with abundant crop and everyone with prosperity. After prayer, people meet friends and relatives to exchange gifts and greetings and distribute Prasad. During night, men and women sing songs, perform on the folk dances-Bhangra and Giddha with the beats of dhol. Later, they sit around the bonfire and serve the feast of sarson-ka-saag, makki-di-roti and dessert “rau-di-kheer”.
How to celebrate the festival with your children at home:
- Tell your children about the importance and social significance of this festival. Tell them about the sacred bonfire and its association with the sense of togetherness and gratitude for the God.
- Ask them to help you in cleaning your home, decorating with flowers and filling pouches with Prasad.
- Go out with your children to buy new clothes and food items like rewari, gajak, popcorns and peanuts for the festival.
- Ask them to wish their friends, relatives and neighbours ‘Happy Lohri’.
- Arrange something to make their evening musical and dance with them to share your joys, around bonfire.
- Prepare a bonfire in the front yard or the terrace of your home and instruct them not to go closer to the bonfire.
- Make your offerings to the bonfire and ask your children distribute the Prasad among all.
- Prepare the traditional dinner and serve it to your children in the traditional way around the bonfire.
- Be alert and take care of your children while they enjoy the festival around the bonfire.
So, celebrate this festival of prosperity, joy and sharing with your children in a way that they always remember its importance throughout their lives.