Lohri is a popular festival celebrated among Sikhs and Hindus, on January 13. According to the Indian calendar, Lohri falls in the month of Pausha and is followed by the festival of kites, Makar Sankranti. The Lohri festival is celebrated among many communities with different names.
The Lohri significance is believed to mark the end of peak winter and celebrates the new harvest of crops. People worship the sun and the fire, thanking the elements for the good harvest. And because it is seen as a harvest festival, Lohri is also considered to be a new financial year among farmers. The Lohri festival is also considered an auspicious time for new brides as it marks fertility. It is considered important to celebrate the first Lohri for the baby. The mother and babywear beautiful clothes (usually new), jewellery and mehendi, and are showered with gifts and blessings by the family.
History Of Lohri Festival
The origin of the festival can be traced back from the tale of Dulla Bhatti, who was a famous legendary hero of Punjab and led a rebellion against Mughal emperor Akbar. According to legends, Dulla Bhatti was a bandit who rescued girls being forcibly sold in the slave market. Due to his acts of bravery, he became a hero for the people of Punjab and almost every song has words to express gratitude to him.
The first week of January marks the beginning of Lohri celebrations with small groups of boys ringing the doorbell of houses and chanting Lohri songs related to Dulla Bhatti. In turn, the people give them popcorn, peanuts, crystal sugar, sesame seeds (til) or gur as well as money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.
There are many tales on how the name Lohri gave birth. One such story goes about the name being derived from Loi, the wife of Sant Kabir, for in rural Punjab Lohri is pronounced as Lohi. Others believe that Lohri comes from the word ‘loh’, a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapatis for community feasts.
What Does A Typical Lohri Celebration Look Like?
Traditionally Lohri celebrations begin by lighting a huge bonfire in the yard after the crops are chopped. Small idols of Lohri goddess are made with cattle dung and placed beneath the fire. The Lohri bonfire is lit during sunset and people in traditional attires circle around it throwing sesame seeds, jaggery, and rewari into the fire. They proceed to sing and dance around the Lohri bonfire till the fire dies out. One of the popular festival songs is “sundar mundariye ho”, dedicated to Dulla Bhatti. This is their way of praying to the fire god to bless their land with abundance and prosperity. People also exchange messages and greet each other. It is a tradition to eat sesame rice (til rice) made with jaggery, sesame and rice on this day.
What Are Some Popular Types Of Lohri Decor?
A typical scene of festivity during Lohri is all about colours, the Lohri bonfire and sounds of a dholki. Here are some ways you can decorate your house during the festival.
Get your hands on some beautiful phulkari dupattas and use them as backdrops. Add small bells, ghungroos or lace to the dupattas for an interesting visual appeal.
Bring out your diyas and fairy lights for a nice warm effect. You could use fire lamps and lanterns to represent fire.
Nothing can beat a good ol’ desi artwork. Colour doorsteps with beautiful rangolis, you can add a beautiful effect with diyas too.
4. Hay And Khatiya
Your lohri decor isn’t complete without hay and khatiya. Get your hands on some fake hay and if possible, a khatiya to elevate your celebrations.
What Do You Wear During The Lohri Festival?
There is a wide variety of options to choose from when wondering, “What do you wear to a Lohri Party?”. You can go for something traditional like a saree or something indo-western.
Here are a few options you can choose from:
Worn by Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met, the Punjabi patialas are the perfect solution for your outfit troubles. It is the combination of comfort, style and ease. Wear bold colours with zardozi work styling your hair in a braid.
2. Ethnic Long Shirts With Pants
For a more relaxed and western look, pair an ethnic long shirt with an Indie pant. Try wearing a long shirt with embellishments for a more fashionable look.
No matter what the occasion, you can never go wrong with a saree. Style your saree with traditional jewellery and a bold makeup look.
4 Authentic Lohri Recipes You Can Make At Your Party
Lohri festival is celebrated with lots of food and traditions. From Sarson ka Saag to Til Ke Laddu, it is a platter of delicious goodness. Here are a few Lohri dishes you can whip up for your festivities.
1. Sarson Ka Saag
Sarson ka saag recipe is a very traditional recipe made from a mix of greens like mustard leaves, spinach leaves and bathua.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
- 2 bunches mustard leaves (sarson)
- 1 medium-sized bunch spinach (palak)
- 1 medium-sized bunch wild spinach (bathua)
- 100 ml water
- Salt to taste
- 4-5 green chillies – chopped
- 8-10 cloves garlic – chopped
- ¼th cup fresh coriander – chopped
- 4-5 tablespoons maize flour (makke ka aata)
- 50 ml hot water
- 4-5 tablespoons ghee
- 1-2 medium size onions – chopped
- 1-inch ginger – chopped
- 1 medium-size tomato – chopped
- Wash all the three leaves and further chop them roughly and keep aside.
- Set a wok or pan on medium heat, add water, salt to taste and bring it to a boil, add the chopped leaves, green chillies, garlic and fresh coriander leaves, mix well and try to mash it while stirring.
- Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, mash it once again. Repeat the procedure of cover and cooking until the leaves are cooked completely and are mashed properly. This process would take about 1 hour. You can also choose to cook the saag in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle.
- Add the maize flour and cook well, adding maize flour will absorb the excess moisture, add hot water and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Set another pan or wok on medium heat, add ghee and onions and cook until translucent.
- Add ginger and cook until onions turn golden brown.
- Add tomatoes and cook until they are mushy.
- Add the cooked saag and further cook it for 10-15 mins. Your sarson da saag is ready to be served.
- Serve hot with hot makke di roti.
2. Makke Di Roti
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
- 1 cup maize flour (makke ka aata)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- Lukewarm water as required
- In a mixing bowl, add maize flour, salt and ajwain, mix well and add water as required and knead well to make a soft dough, prefer lukewarm water for better results. Rest the dough for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into equal size dough balls, flatten with hands and dust little dry maize flour and roll into thick chapati, for easy way place a foil paper or cling wrap so it becomes easy to lift the chapati without breaking it.
- Set a hot tawa and cook the roti on both the sides until brown spots appear, apply little ghee and cook again on both the sides.
- Your makki di roti is ready to be served, serve hot with hot sarson da saag or any bhaji of your choice.
3. Chironji And Makhane Ki Kheer
A delicious kheer that is rich and yet delicious, packed with flavors from the saffron and cardamom.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
- 2 cups lotus seeds (makhana)
- 500 ml boiled milk
- Cashew nuts (kaju)
- Cardamom seeds (elaichi)
- A pinch of saffron (kesar)
- ¼ cup sugar
- Toss the makhana for a couple of minutes in ghee.
- To a mixer jar, add a quarter cup of roasted makhana, cashew nuts, cardamom seeds, saffron and blend it to a fine powder.
- To a wide saucepan, pour the milk and heat it.
- Roast cashew and raisins in ghee and keep it aside.
- To this add the toasted makhana and boil it for 5 minutes.
- Now add the ground powder and mix it.
- Finally add a pinch of saffron and turn off the stove.
- Makhana kheer is ready.
4. Amritsari Chole Bhature
A traditional Lohri dish which is spicy and tangy packed with flavours from ginger and lemon.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
- 250 gms white chickpeas (Kabuli chana)
- 6-7 garlic cloves
- Whole spices: 1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini), 1-2 black cardamom (badi elaichi), 1-2 green cardamom (choti elaichi), 3-4 cloves (laung), 5-6 black peppercorns (kali mirch), 2-3 bay leaf (tej pata), 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain).
- 250 ml black tea concoction
- Salt to taste
- Water as required
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions – paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 3-4 tomatoes – puree
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 green chillies
- 1-inch ginger – julienned
- Powdered spices: 1 tablespoon coriander powder (dhaniya), 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, 1 tablespoon jeera powder, 2 tablespoons pomegranate powder (anardana powder)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 2 teaspoons fresh coriander
- Wash the chickpeas and soak it in freshwater for 5 hours or overnight.
- Drain the excess water and wash thoroughly with fresh water.
- Set a cooker on medium heat add the soaked chickpeas, garlic cloves, whole spices, strained black concoction to darken the chickpeas, salt to taste and add water so it is 2 inches above the chickpeas. Mix well and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles on medium heat.
- Switch off the flame and let the cooker depressurise naturally to open the lid. Give it a nice stir.
- Check whether the chickpeas are cooked or not by mashing it with a fork or spoon, if not, give 1 or 2 whistles more to cook completely.
- Set a deep pan or wok on medium heat, add oil, onion paste and cook until golden brown, add a splash of water if the onions stick to the pan.
- Add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomato puree and salt to taste, cook until the oil is released.
- Add ginger, green chillies and powdered spices, cook for 2-3 minutes, add 100 ml water, mix and cook for a minute.
- Add the cooked chole along with its water and mix well, add water to adjust the consistency of the curry, you can reduce or increase the amount of water depending how thick or thin you want your chole to be, make sure you add hot water and bring it to a boil.
- Add garam masala, kasuri methi and freshly chopped coriander leaves, mix and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
- Your flavourful Amritsari chole is ready to be served, served hot with freshly prepared bhaturas or kulcha, accompanied with pickle and onion rings on the side.
The Lohri festival is a celebration that ties together various communities. It is celebrated with great fervour and exuberance. The Lohri significance, not only lies in religious terms but also as a social way. It imparts love to all communities. The festival is a time where people come across the importance of agriculture, harvest and also relationship values.