How Lohri is Celebrated in India?

Lohri is essentially a harvest festival mostly celebrated in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. People celebrate it with great fun, excitement, and enthusiasm. The customs and traditions may slightly vary from one region to another but basically all of them are attached to the harvesting of the Rabi crops. The North Indian people celebrate this festival to mark the end of winter solstice. The harvested fields and front yards are lit up with flames of bonfire and people sit around it and engage into singing, dancing, and merry-making.

  • Lohri signifies the fertility and joy of life. People sit around the bonfire and throw puffed rice, sweets, and popcorn into the flames.
  • In the morning children of the locality gather in their new dress and go to every home singing songs of praise of Dulla Bhatti or the Robin Hood of Punjab. Dulla Bhatti used to rob the rich people and distribute the wealth among the poor and underprivileged. People give the children money, sweets, peanuts, etc. The earning is known as Lohri Loot. They sing: "Dabba bharaya leera da; Ai ghar ameera da" which means – “Box filled with cloths strips, this house is of the rich. And those who weren't that generous had to face a bunch of kids chanting the following:” "Hukka bhai Hukkaa - Ai ghar bhukka" meaning – “Hukka! Oh! Hukka! this house is full of misers!”
  • As the sun sets in the evening, huge bonfires are set and lit up in the harvested fields or in front of the house. For that purpose, logs of wood are piled up together. Once the bonfire is lit up, people go around the fire three times, giving offerings of popcorns, peanuts, rayveri and sweets. Then, everyone dances to the beats of dhol (traditional Indian drum). People say a slogan while throwing rice and popcorn in the flame – “Aadar aye dilather jaye” which means “may honor come and poverty vanish”.
  • People also pitch the sticks of sugarcane into the fire and an aroma of burning sugar spreads in the atmosphere. Little girls and boys then light fireworks and sparklers which adds more fun to the festive night. The singing and dancing continue all through the night.
  • There is another belief that when people throw sesame seeds in the fire they ask for sons. The saying is that “as many as the elder brother's wife throws, so many sons the younger brother's wife will bear”. Sounds funny!!! That’s why in those households where there is a new-born son or a newly-wed man and wife, Lohri is celebrated with even greater enthusiasm.
  • The Prasad of sesame or til, peanuts, rayveri, puffed rice, popcorn, gajak, and other sweets are distributed. And this symbolizes a prayer to Agni for abundant crops and prosperity.
  • After the Parikrama of the bonfire, people meet friends and relatives and exchange gifts and greetings. Post that everyone sits to dine together and gorge on Sarso Da Saag (cooked mustard herbs) & Makke Di Roti ((multi-millet hand-rolled bread) served with home-made white butter.
  • The menfolk of most of the villages of Punjab or Haryana or Himachal Pradesh perform bhangra on this day. Bhangra is a famous dance form for the immense energy put in every step. This dance establishes the potency, vivacity, and exuberance of people, in anticipation of money coming in after the cutting of a good harvest. During Lohri celebration, the drum plays a very important part giving the prime accompaniment to the folk music.
  • Kite flying is another ritual of this vivacious festival. This ritual is very popular and draws a lot of attention. The locals and villagers of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh get dressed up in traditional attire to participate in this kite flying festival. Men wear bright Kurta, Dhoti, and Pagdi or Turban while women wear colorful lehengas, kurtis, and dupattas. It is believed that kite flying is performed to bask in the glorious morning sun which is a way of thanking sun and nature to help in farming.
  • The 1st Lohri of the newly-wed couple or a newborn baby is an important one. The immediate family members are invited for a grand feast and that is followed by an exchange of gifts. Once the party is over, the traditional singing and dancing continue. The new bride and the newborn baby are pampered by everyone on this day.

1st Lohri of New Bride:

The 1st Lohri of a new bride is a magnanimous one. The family of both the bride and groom gather wearing the new clothes. The clothes with heavy embroidery work and heavy jewelry are preferred. The new bride has to wear a new bangle on her wrist, apply Mehendi or henna on the palms of her hand, and put on a colorful bindi on her forehead. The in-laws present new clothes and jewelry to the new bride. The bride and groom are made to sit at a central position where the father-in-law, mother-in-law, followed by other guests and relatives present their gifts and bless them for a happy and prosperous life ahead.

1st Lohri of Newborn:

The close friends and family members come together to celebrate Lohri with the newborn baby. Some people even send out invitation cards to relatives – it is that big! In the paternal home of the newborn child, all these rituals take place. All the invited friends and relatives gather with gifts to bless the newborn child. The maternal grandparents of the newborn child give gifts to the paternal grandparents and other relatives.

Just like a new bride, the new mom has to deck up in heavy clothes and jewelry followed by mehendi on hands & feet & bindi on forehead. The baby is placed on her lap while the close friends, family members, and other relatives give presents ranging from clothes to dry fruits.

Some of the most famous Lohri Songs that play throughout the day are as follows:

  • Lohri (Asa Nu Maan Watna Da): Jaspinder Narula and Harbhajan Mann have sung this beautiful Punjabi song and it is indeed a treat for sore ears.
  • Balle Balle (Mel Karade Rabba): This lovely song features Jimmy Sheirgill and Neeru Bajwa and is a dance number for the newlyweds.
  • Lodi (Veer Zaara): It’s a treat to watch Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zinta all clad in vibrant Punjabi traditional dress and dancing around bonfire in this song.
  • Massan Leya (Raj Ghumman): This is another very famous Lohri song where you can see stunning women dancing in colourful traditional dresses.
  • Sundar Mundariye (Daler Mehndi): The voice of Daler Mehndi sets the mood of Lohri for sure and this song with pumping Punjabi beats will fill you with new festive energy.