All About Lohri And Its Many Meanings Across India

Lohri's popularity extends beyond the Northern region with different names in various areas, such as Pongal in South India, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh, and Bhugali Bihu, to name a few
All About Lohri
All About Lohri Shutterstock

Lohri, a cherished winter festival, finds its roots in the cultural fabric of Northern India, with a particular resonance in the states of Punjab and Haryana. Its popularity extends beyond these regions to encompass the entire country. Different names in various areas, such as Pongal in South India, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh, Bhugali Bihu in Assam, Uttarayan in Gujarat, and Makar Sankranti in Central India, know the festival.

Despite regional variations, Lohri consistently signifies the end of the harvesting season and the joyous welcome of spring after winter. It symbolically marks the conclusion of winter, indicating the passage of the winter solstice and the arrival of longer days as the sun moves to the Northern Hemisphere. Observed on the night before Maghi in line with the solar aspect of the lunisolar Punjabi calendar, Lohri usually falls on January 13 or 14 in the Gregorian calendar. This year, it is being marked on January 13.


All About Lohri
All About LohriMemories Over Mocha / Shutterstock

Rooted in the term 'Loh,' Lohri carries symbolic importance in communal gatherings. The word denotes explicitly a substantial griddle or tava, an essential cooking tool in traditional settings. In the context of Lohri, this association with the large griddle mirrors the communal nature of the festival. Historically, communities would assemble around a central fire, often ignited for this occasion, and prepare food using the shared griddle. This collective cooking experience nurtures a sense of unity and togetherness, embodying the communal spirit of Lohri. The name highlights the practical use of the griddle and holds cultural narratives and traditions, underscoring the communal feasting and celebration that characterise Lohri.

Varied Significance

Dedicated to the Sun god, Surya, Lohri is a festival involving prayers for warmth and sunshine, a symbolic gesture of seeking respite from the harshness of winter. Congregating around the bonfire holds spiritual significance, representing a collective appeal for the return of light and heat after the chilly winter months.

Beyond agricultural and spiritual importance, Lohri plays a pivotal role in farmers' economic calendar, following the Bikrami calendar. On this auspicious day, post-harvest, rent is collected, symbolising the start of the new fiscal year. This practice underscores the festival's integral connection to the agricultural cycle and its role in defining financial milestones for the farming community.

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