In Punjab harvested fields of mustard and front yards of people's home are lit up with lights and flames of bonfires.
The harvest festival lohri is celebrated on January 13 every year. The festival is mostly celebrated in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu. According to Hindus, the festival marks the end of peak winters and the beginning of Magh.
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In Punjab harvested fields of mustard and front yards of people’s home are lit up with lights and flames of bonfires. People gather to meet each other and sing songs. Some homes may like it the traditional ways and sing folk songs but nowadays people like to sing Bollywood songs as well.
Songs from the movies which have depicted lohri, like Maachis and Veer Zara are a hit amongst Punjabis.
But the song Sunder Mundariye remains a must in all lohri celebrations.
Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
The song comes from a folklore where Dulla Bhatti a man who lived in Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign was the Robin Hood of that time. He stole from the rich and fed the poor. He also paid dowries for women who got married. His biggest legend was his marriage with two women slaves Sundri and Mundri on lohri. He rescued them and hence the day is celebrated also as an ode to freedom.
In the mornings, children from all households go door to door singing songs and distributing sweets and elders give them money. In the evening, people light their bonfires and throw rewri, peanuts and pop corn into the bonfire while singing and dancing around the bonfire. They sing “Aadar aye dilather jaye” (May honor come and poverty vanish!). Many women throw sesame seeds into the fire and pray for sons.
Lohri is to celebrate fertility and joy of life. It is also important to Punjabis because it is an occasion where they celebrate their years harvest of rabi crops.
The festival is mentioned in holybooks like Guru Granth Sahib and Bhagwath Gita. In the Guru Granth Sahib where it says that lohri is considered as an auspicious time of the year and anyone who meditates in front of the fire will be blessed. According to the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna manifested himself in his full magnificence during this time.
Sundar Mundariye remains the most popular legend, but there are many other legends associated with the festival. One common one is the story of two sisters, Holika and Lohri. When Holika was put to agni test which she survived is also celebrated on the same day. Also some believe the festival is also a form of reverence to sant Kabir.