Lohri is the harvest festival of Punjab, famously known as the the breadbasket state of India. Thus, people residing in Punjab attach a great significance to Lohri, the festival in feasts and foods. This harvest festival is celebrated to mark both celebration and sharing.
Lohri festival prompts people to be thankful for God's provision and to celebrate his creation, its focus on farming.
In Punjab, wheat is the main winter crop, which is sown in October and harvested in March or April. In January, the fields come up with the promise of a golden harvest, and farmers celebrate Lohri during this rest period before the cutting and gathering of crops. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival, it is also an example of a way of life.
Lohri is a festival of zeal and verve and marks the culmination of the chilly winter. In true spirit of the Punjabi culture, men and women perform Bhangra and Giddha, popular Punjabi folk dances, around a bonfire. Enthusiastic children go from house to house singing songs and people oblige them generously by giving them money and eatables as offering for the festival
Logs of wood are piled together for a bonfire, and friends and relatives gather around it. They go around the fire three times, giving offerings of popcorns, peanuts, rayveri and sweets. Then, to the beat of the dhol (traditional Indian drum), people dance around the fire. Prasad of til, peanuts, rayveri, puffed rice, popcorn, gajak and sweets is distributed. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni for abundant crops and prosperity.
Lohri is also an auspicious occasion to celebrate a newly born baby’s or a new bride’s arrival in the family. The day ends with a traditional feast of sarson da saag and makki di roti and a dessert of rau di kheer (a dessert made of sugarcane juice and rice). The purpose of the Lohri harvest ceremony is to thank the God for his care and protection. During this festival the people prepare large quantities of food and drink, and make merry throughout the day and night. Therefore everyone looked forward to this day.
Thus the jubilation at a bountiful harvest becomes the reason for the celebration of Lohri. It is one of the most popular harvest festivals of Punjab, with fairs held at various places. Dancing men and women, sing and dance around the bonfire and people come out of their houses to greet one and all.