Lohri just came and went and in usual Punjabi style, it was celebrated with lights, larger than life environment and rich food. Lohri is the festival celebrated in Punjab to mark the start of the harvest season and to pay homage to the gods for the years harvest. It is celebrated on the longest night of the year or in other words, the winter solstice.
Lohri is also known as the bonfire festival. Why you may wonder? Well, there is a tradition to throw foods like gajak, puffed rice and popcorn into the fire.[pullquote]This bonfire ritual is the epicenter of the festival symbolizing Agni, the God of Fire.[/pullquote] People bask in the warm flames, crowd around the luminous fire, enthusiastically sing songs and toss in food into the fire. Gajak or chikki, puffed rice, rawri, sesame seeds, jaggery, peanuts and sugarcane are the food offered to the fire to appease the gods to bless the people with fruitful harvest and subsequent prosperity.
Rabi crops sown in the winter are harvested on Lohri. So it’s no surprise that the meal of the night is sarson ka saag and makki ki roti. The word ‘Lohri’ is derived from the work ‘Tillohri’ which is a concatenation of ‘Til’ and ‘rorhi’(Jaggery). ‘Til ‘and ‘rohri’ are consumed on the day as festive food.
Legend has it that the flames of the ‘Lohri’ fire carry messaged to the sun which is why the day after the festival is sunny and warm ending the cold winter nights. If there is bonfire, food and festivities, count us in!