As the festival signifies the reverence for fire, Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire in the front yard or the crop fields
Punjabi folk festival Lohri signifies the end of winters and as a folk reverence for fire in North India. The festival marks the arrival of the harvest season and falls on January 13 each year, traditionally welcoming the longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere. The day after is celebrated as Maghi Sangrand (Makrasankranti). It is celebrated with great fervor by Hindu and Sikh community in Punjab. Apart from Punjab, Lohri is celebrated in Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and now across the country by Punjabis.
As the festival signifies reverence for fire, Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire in the front yard or the crop fields. People gather around the bonfire offering sesame seeds, puff rice and sheaves of corn to the fire thanking for the year and the evening is filled with folk music, dance, and food. Punjabi women go around the fire singing “Sunder mundriye ho!”
Back in the day during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar, there lived a man known as Dulla Bhatti. He used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, he arranged their marriages to boys of the village and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). Which now narrates as a Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye
Lohri is celebrated by eating sheaves of roasted corn from the new harvest. Sugarcane products such as gur and gajak, nuts, sesame seeds which are harvested in January are popular during the celebrations. The other important food enjoyed is radish and mustard greens cultivated in winter months. Gazak, Sarson da Saag, Makki di Doti, Radish, Tricholi – Til rice, groundnuts and jaggery are enjoyed throughout north India during this time.
Here is a Lohri special recipe that you may give it a try at home.
Roh di Kheer (Sugarcane juice kheer)
- 1 litre Sugarcane juice
- 100 gms rice
- 2 tsp milk
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp chopped dry fruits
Step 1 – Wash and soak the rice in water for half an hour.
Step 2 – In a pot heat the sugarcane juice and bring it to boil.
Step 3 – Reduce the flame and add the milk. After a few minutes a scum like a layer may appear, take it out using a ladle or a spoon.
Step 4 – Drain the water from the rice and add it to the boiling mixture. Stir well and cook the rice on low flame, uncovered.
Step 5 – Stir occasionally until the rice is done and the juice becomes syrupy.
Step 6 – Take the pot off the stove and stir in the cardamom powder. Add toasted or fried nuts of your choice.
Step 7 – Enjoy it warm or chilled. (It tastes best after it sits for a few hours).