Indians love to celebrate. Different States and religions celebrate diverse festivals through the year, but the festive spirit ties everyone together. Lohri is a winter festival celebrated by Sikh and Hindu Punjabis on January 13. Makar Sankranti, usually celebrated the day after Lohri, coincides with Pongal, a South Indian festival; as well as Magh Bihu, an Assamese festival.
All these festivals celebrate the passing of the winter solstice; the arrival of longer days and the end of the winter season. The festivities change according to the State. Makar Sankranti is observed by worshipping the sun. Houses are beautifully adorned and delicious food is cooked in every household. People deem it auspicious to take pilgrimages at this time.
The Lohri bonfire
Pongal is celebrated mostly in Tamil Nadu, and lasts 4 days. It’s an ode to the bounty of nature and a time for families to celebrate. Bhogali or Magh Bihu is celebrated in Assam with lots of food. All these festivals, including Lohri are agrarian events, marking the end of the harvest period. All the hard work of sowing the crops is done, so it’s time to party with your family!
As Punjabis based in Delhi, we celebrate Lohri. There are no crops or fields for miles in our city, but we love any excuse to party! Growing up, Lohri celebrations were small community affairs. The park near my house or the local club would have a large bonfire just after sunset. People traditionally sang and danced around the bonfire, throwing popcorn, and other winter snacks like sesame chikis and peanuts into the fire.
We dress up in traditional attire and celebrate with family and friends
Though it was always fun, Lohri became truly significant for me in 2013. My husband asked me to marry him on New Year’s Eve 2012; and our families celebrated our engagement on the next auspicious day- January 13; a rare day when Lohri and Makar Sankranti happened together (because of the sun’s movements, Makar Sankranti sometimes falls on a different day than January 14). We had a simple prayer ceremony and exchange of rings at home; followed by a lunch reception at the Imperial Hotel.
We were married later that year, and our first Lohri as a couple was another gala celebration in January 2014. My grandmother-in-law hosted a dinner for our family and friends at her home. Being a traditional Punjabi, she had all the preparations down pat, with a huge bonfire, delicious food and lovely music.
Newly engaged on Lohri day: 13.01.13
‘First’ Lohri’s are considered the most important; as a way of ensuring the couple’s life together and a new-born child’s life, is fruitful. We celebrated my son’s first Lohri with the family last year. This year we were invited to celebrate a friend’s sons first Lohri. Functions like this, along with weddings and deaths, bring the community closer.
Celebrating my son’s first Lohri with family. 13.01.17
Lohri will always hold a special place in my heart; reminiscent of love, cold weather and plenty of warmth. Hope you all had a lovely Lohri!
Festival rating: 5/5