मंगलवार, 12 जनवरी 2010

Origin of Lohri

The origin of Lohri is related to the central character of most Lohri songs that is Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber who lived in Punjab during the reign of emperor Akbar. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued Hindu girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave markets of the Middle East. He arranged their marriages to Hindu boys with Hindu rituals and provided them with dowries. Understandably, though a bandit, he became a hero of all Punjabis. So every other Lohri song has words to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.

Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival; it is also an example of a way of life. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather round the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular songs and exchange greetings. An extremely auspicious day, Lohri marks the sun's entry into the 'Makar Rashi' (northern hemisphere).
Ceremonies that go with the festival of Lohri usually comprise making a small image of the Lohri goddess with gobar (cattle dung), decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. The final ceremony is to light a large bonfire at sunset, toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy and rewaris in it, sit round it, sing, dance till the fire dies out
Some believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife Sant Kabir, for in rural Punjab Lohri is pronounced as Lohi. Others believe that Lohri comes from the word 'loh', a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapattis for community feasts. Another legend says that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished I the Holi fire, the latter survived.
Eating of til (sesame of seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is considered to be essential on this day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri and hence the festival got this name in this unique fashion.

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