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The Mythology of Lohri Festival: The festival of Happiness

Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!

This famous folk song is sung on Lohri, each line ending with an enthusiastic sound of ‘ho’. It marks the end of winters transitioning to longer, warm and sunny days ahead. Lohri is celebrated on 13th January every year in the northern states of India like Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Some people believe that the festival of Lohri got its name from the wife of Sant Kabir, who was called “Loi”. While some say that it comes from the word ‘loh’, which means warmth and light of the fire.

Lohri marks the festival of abundance, warmth, and happiness. Lohri symbolizes the ripening of crops and the beginning of the harvest season of rabi crops. Farmers see the day after Lohri as the financial New Year and welcome the season of harvest. This is why it holds great significance for farmers, and they celebrate it with a lot of enthusiasm and vigor. Farmers welcome this festival with energy and pomp. The sky is covered with beautiful and colorful kites.

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The Legend behind the festival

Let us look at the mythology behind the festival of Lohri. The traditional folks relate Lohri to Dulla Bhatti, known as ‘Robin Hood of Punjab’. He lived in Punjab during the reign of the famous Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was famously known for robbing the rich and distributing it to the poor and the needy. He rescued many Hindu girls who were forcefully sold in the slave market and even arranged for their marriages.

He was the savior and hero for all the people who suffered at the hands of poverty. Amongst the numerous girls he saved were Sundri and Mundri, based on whom the folk song was sung. After his execution, people started singing the song, including his name ‘Dulla Bhatti’ in his memory. They sing, dance, visit homes for sweets, and gifts. 

The day of Lohri also marks the coldest night of the year, followed by the longest night and shortest day of the year. Since the evenings/nights are freezing and chilly, people organize a bonfire to keep themselves warm and protected.  

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People collect to dance to the tunes of Punjabi folklore songs, enjoy the warmth of the bonfire on a chilly evening. It is a time for laughter, sharing food, around the fire symbolic of letting all your worries burn in the flames of the fire. Let us continue to enjoy this beautiful festival of Lohri with our loved ones and welcome the spring with open arms. Each festival has a set of significant rituals and traditional practices attached to it which binds people together with memories to cherish and connect with each other.

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