Celebrated every year on the 13th of January, Lohri is a festival of togetherness and love. It is one of the main festivals of Punjab and is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. Lohri is the day of bonfires, feasting on eatables like peanuts, gajak, gur, popcorn and more. People get dressed in their best attires in the evening and sing around the bonfire. The festival is marked significant for the harvesting of rabi crops. But this is not all to this warm and beautiful festival. Many legends and tales are linked to this festival. So here are some of the lesser-known Lohri folk tales that you should know:
The Legend of Sun God
Many believe that our forefathers formulated a mantra to invoke Sun God who would protect them from cold. Our ancients believed that the flames from the sacred Lohri would send the message to Sun God to take the cold away. Hence the next day of Lohri would be warmer and cold would be less.
Another Version of Lohri
As per another legend, in the old days, people used to light the fire to protect themselves and their community from wild animals. Young girls and boys would go to the forest to collect wood to light the bonfire at night. This is why even today young girls and boys go from house to house collecting cow dung cakes that help in lighting fire. This fire is believed to protect their community from all evils.
The Legend of Dullah Bhatti
One of the most popular songs of Lohri is “Dullah Bhatti wala” that is sung by all children who collect Lohri Loot. Several other Lohri songs are based on Dulah Bhatti. Dullah Bhatti was a man who used to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He also rescued girls and helped them run away from misery and get them married to their suitable matches. He is considered to be an avatar of Robin hood. This song is sung on Lohri and encourages all to protect their sisters and daughters and punish those who dishonour them.
Tale of the Two Sisters
It is believed that Holika and Lohri were two sisters. Holika perished in the Holi fire while Lohri survived with Prahlad.
The Derivation of the Name ‘Lohri’
It is said that Lohri is derived from Loi who was the wife of Saint Kabir. Another legend suggests that the word “loh” means warmness of fire and is from where the word “Lohri” is derived. As per some tales, the term “Lohri” derived from til (sesame seeds) and rorhi, two popular food items of Lohri.