Social Significance of Lohri

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Though Lohri festival has no religious significance but it holds a great social significance and is celebrated as a day of imparting social love to one and all. The festival of Lohri is meant to relieve people from worldly day to day routine, and make them relaxed, cheerful and happy. It is the time when people from all castes and social strata come together forgetting all past differences and grievances. Every year Lohri succeeds in bridging the social gap, as people visit homes, distribute sweets and greet each other. Apart from this, the festival of Lohri is related to the harvest season. Harvest and fertility festivals a special significance for an agrarian country like India. Punjab being a predominantly agricultural state that prides itself on its food grain production, it is little wonder that Lohri is its one of the most significant festival. Thus, Lohri is symbolic of ripening of the crops and of copious harvest.

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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. Lohri marks the end of winter on the last day of Paush, and beginning of Magha (around January 12 and 13), when the sun changes its course. It is associated with the worship of the sun and fire and is observed by all communities with different names, as Lohri is an exclusively Punjabi festival. The questions like When it began and why is lost in the mists of antiquity. The origin of Lohri is related to the central character of most Lohri songs is Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber who lived in Punjab during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued Hindu girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East. He arranged their marriages to Hindu boys with Hindu rituals and provided them with dowries. Understandably, though a bandit, he became a hero of all Punjabis.

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Fire is associated with concepts of life and health. Fire, like water, is a symbol of transformation and regeneration. It is the representative of the sun, and is thus related, on the one hand with rays of light, and on the other with gold. It is capable of stimulating the growth of cornfields and the well being of man and animals. It is the imitative magic purporting to assure the supply of light and heat. It is also an image of energy and spiritual strength. That is why the Lohri fire gets sanctified and is venerated like a deity. On this occasion, people offer peanuts, popcorn and sweets made of til- chirva, gajak and revri – to propitiate fire as a symbol of the sun god.

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