Friday, December 30, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 28 - Lohri Midwinter festival

Happy Lohri.jpgLohri Midwinter festival, celebration of Winter Solstice 13 January

  • A popular Punjabi festival.
  • Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice as it was originally celebrated on solstice
  • Instead of celebrating on the day winter solstice occurs, it is celebrated on the last day of the month during which winter solstice takes place, thus commemorating the passing of the winter solstice.
  • A key feature of Lohri is bonfires which signifies the return of longer days.
  • Lohri is traditionally associated with the harvest of sugarcane crops. Sugarcane products are central to Lohri celebrations. The other important food item of Lohri is radish.
  • 10 to 15 days before Lohri, groups of youth go around singing and collecting logs for the bonfires. In some places, they also collect grains and jaggery which are sold and the sale proceeds are divided amongst the group.
  • A member of the group may smear his face with ash and tie a rope around his neck to act as a deterrent for people who refrain from giving Lohri items.
  • The boys will sing Lohri songs asking for Lohri items. If not enough is given, the householder will be given an ultimatum to either give more or the rope will be loosened. If not enough is given, then the boy who has his face smeared will try to enter the house and smash clay pots
  • The bonfire is lit at sunset in the main village square. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaries on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire, a tradition common in winter solstice celebrations.
  • Milk and water is also poured around the bonfire by Hindus to thank the Sun God and see his continued protection.
  • Kite flying on Lohri is popular in some parts of Punjab.

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