Chandigarh, January 12, 2023:
Festivals offer many opportunities to people to absorb the positive energy and true ideology from the deities. These mark the end of the winter season and impart ample reasons to rejoice, enjoy and have fun. On Lohri, fire is worshipped which is the symbol of power.
Lohri also known as Lohadi is an Indian festival of traditional significance. It is celebrated by all the age groups a day before Sankranti. It marks the end of winter and dawn of spring. The festival is a traditional one and associated with the harvesting of the rabi crops. It is the most cheer sprinkling season as winter harvest festival starts with Lohri and Makar Sankranti. It is the time to harvest sugarcane crop. The farmers in Punjab view the days after Lohri as the new financial year.
Some folk-legend is connected with Lohri. The cultural history of Punjab narrates that Bhatti was a Rajput tribe during the Akbar rule and his rule was spread over parts of Rajasthan, Punjab etc. Dulla Bhati of Hindi Bhattian was put to death by the Mughal King for his revolt.
Dulla Bhati looted the affluent people and donated it to the poor. So he was loved by the people of that region. He once rescued a girl from the clutches of kidnappers and adopted her as his daughter. So he is remembered as a hero every year on Lohri. Children and even elder move in groups and sing Dulla-Bhatti folk song.
Lohri is a festival dedicated to fire and the sun-god as the sun transits the Zodiac sign Makar (Capricorn) and moves towards the north Rewri, peanuts, popcorn, sesame, ‘Bhugga’ are associated with this festival. In some Punjab areas, ‘Makki ki Roti’ and ‘Sarson Saag’ are treated as auspicious along with sweet rice made in jaggery.
Makar Sankranti also known as ‘Maghi’ is a harvest festival and celebrated all over India. The word ‘Sankranti’ in Sanskrit means ‘passage from one point to another transition’. It is much popular in West India. In fact, festival of Makar Sankranti is a solar event which generally falls on 14 January and with some exceptions on 15 January. It marks the end of the winter solstice. It is considered a pious festival denoting peace and prosperity. The day is also auspicious for spiritual meditation and people take a holy dip in rivers like the Ganga, the Godavari, the Krishna which is believed to wash away our sins. It is also celebrated in South Asia with some regional changes and customs.
The festival also means to have a bond of love and affection and shed away the jealousy, hatred, avarice and live in peace. It also marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh. In South India and Kerala, an austere pilgrimage of Shabrimala ends on this holy day. In the same way, Pongal is celebrated by the Tamils with a sweet dish of rice, moong dal, jaggery and milk. It is a thanks giving ceremony when the farmers celebrate the event to be grateful to the nature, the Sun, the farm animals for successful yield of harvest.
According to a famous legend, Sankranti was a goddess who killed a devil called Shankarasur. Bhisham Pitamah, a character in Mahabharata also bade adieu to this world on Makar Sankranti.
The festivals of Lohri and Makar Sankranti are unique in significance. The mesmerizing blazing fires are symbolic to shed the enmity and lead a life of love and bondage of affection. These festivals also represent the diversity of our land. Taking bath in the river is symbolic of purification not only of physical body but also cleaning of mind and soul.
It is very cherishing to revive that Mrs. Alka Puri, wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of leading Journalist Dr. Jaswant Singh Puri, being Secretary of Ladies’ Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice-chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal used to organize Lohri Festival in the Guest House of the University with special delicacies of mouth watering Punjabi Tadka like ‘Makki Di Roti’, and ‘Sarson Da Saag’.
All the Professors, Heads of Departments, High Officials, Vice-Chancellor, with spouses had a lively and heart throbbing Lohri Festival with folk-music, folk songs, Bhangra, over hot sips of flavoured coffee and delicious soup. ‘Peanuts’, ‘Gazak’, ‘Rewri’, ‘Bhugga’ were also served to satiate the moments of revelry. Mrs. Alka Puri welcomed the guests in her usual sweet sounding Hindi language and concluded the function on a vote of thanks in a mesmerizing manner which kept the memories of the function and the festival with sweet memories to linger in their heart of hearts. Hats off to Mrs. Alka Puri.
Author: Dr. Jaswant Singh Puri, Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) , Social Activist, Punjab Rattan, Member, Dewan Family, , Erstwhile Princely State of Patiala ,(Author of the world acclaimed book ‘Rise and Decline of the Mughal Empire’