Festivals in Punjab have always been celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. Punjab being a predominantly agriculture state that prides itself on its food grain production. Therefore, for the masses the festival of Lohri is a popular occasion for social get together and enjoyment. Lohri brings everyone in a celebrative mood and on this day one can get a glimpse of the vivacity of life in Punjab. Celebrated in January with bonfire and bhangra, Lohri ushers in the cheerful spring season bidding adieu to dull winters.
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. Gathering around the bonfire people sing and dance and friends and relatives exchange greetings. And it becomes part of the festival to throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the fire. A puja is performed beside the bonfire and the "Prasad" comprises of six main things : til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn is distributed. Children from door to door sings and ask for the Lohri prasad. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.
Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of winter begins to taper off. In the olden days, it was more of a community festival, where the birth of a son, the first year of marriage was celebrated all through the village in front of the sacred fire. Songs like 'Sunder mundriye, tera kaun vichara, Dulla Bhathi Wala are sung to the beat of claps. Groups of little children go singing round the village collecting 'gur' and 'rewari' for themselves. 'Lohri' is preceded by Maagh and the famous Maaghi Da Mela, where the Bhangra is danced by the men of the Village.
Bhangra is an energetic dance associated with the ripening of crops, performed by the menfolk of the villages. The dance manifests the vigor and vitality and exuberance of the people, in anticipation of money coming in after the cutting of a good harvest. During Lohri celebration, the drum plays a very important part. It provides the basic accompaniment to most of folk music. There are specific folk songs that is sung during the festival of Lohri.
The vivacious Punjabi's are very fond of fairs that is help to celebrate the festivity of Lohri. People from all communities come to participate in Lohri fairs from far-off places, trudging dusty distances. Men, women and children of all ages, classes and creeds flock in hundreds and enjoy the numerous fascinating features of the fair : races, singing, wrestling bouts, acrobatics etc. Wearing new clothes, both old and young come out in their multi-colored and smartest best.