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  • Writer's pictureMeru Badyal

The Winter Harvest Festival: Lohri

Life is strange - even though it is meant to be lived in the present moment, reminiscences from the past keep knocking at my door!

Today, the memories came rushing back on the happy occasion of Lohri - a North Indian winter festival celebrated by the hardworking farming community to mark;

  • Beginning of crop harvesting season

  • End of winter solstice/season

  • Celebrate the life of folk hero from Punjab- Dulla Bhatti

How we celebrated the Lohri festival?

For families in my colony - the doctor colony located in the beautiful town Nangal in Punjab - the winter harvest festival called for a grand celebration. Bonfire, traditional folk songs, dance, games and much more!

For children, the hard preparation for the festive bonfire started a few days ago.

I can still hear the distant chants of “Sunder Mundariye” - a traditional folk song sung door-to-door by chirpy kids to collect money to prepare for day’s festivities.

Everyone had to pool in for evening expenses - to buy eatables and gifts. Or else the intensity of folk songs across the reluctant neighbour's door would increase till they budged. ;)

I vividly remember the adventure-filled days when we sometimes wandered into the nearby jungle to collect logs of wood for the evening bonfire.

One happy evening, we stumbled upon the logs (neatly packed by someone) lying on the forest floor. We decided immaturely to steal them.

Unfortunately, the Sadhu/Saint to whom the pile belonged spotted us from his hill-top temple. In a dramatic turn of events, he started yelling at us and pointed a Trishul/ Trident at us from far. ;)

We ran for our lives as if the magical Trishul/ Trident was really going to fly towards us from such a far distance. I can still feel the thrill in my veins when we "ran for our lives" into more wilderness!!! :)

The Festive Bonfire:

Bonfire Lohri Harvest festival India

The festive evening begins with collecting chairs from each house in the colony- arranged neatly around the bonfire.

The main task for the adults/ older kids was to safely lit the bonfire. Once lit, all of us gathered around the bonfire, sang and danced around it, and offered sweets and food items like Moongfali (Peanuts), Gajak, Rewari, and Popcorns to the flame - to thank the Fire and the Sun God for the season of fertility!

The evening advanced wonderfully as the fire grew stronger - a respite from the bitter cold-windy day!

The game of musical chairs was the most awaited moment where both adults and kids used to participate with full enthusiasm. The respective winners were presented with nicely wrapped-up gifts in the end.

Sometimes, adults grew over-competitive. I remember an incident when my dad pulled away from a chair in child-like enthusiasm and our neighbor uncle fell on the ground when he tried to sit. ;)

The sumptuous dinner consisted of mouth-watering dishes like Gajar ka Halwa, Til Rice, Sarson Da Saag, etc.

Singing and dancing continued till the midnight hour, paving the way towards the successful celebration of the winter harvest festival.

Presently, these memories might appear as a thing of the long-gone past. But, the happy memories bring a smile when I reminisce about the simpler times/ era gone by - an era with no pictures but countless heart-warming memories! :)

Happy Lohri !!! :)

The folk song "Sunder Mundriye": Lohri Festival

Sunder mundriye ho! Tera kaun vicaharaa ho! Dullah Bhatti walla ho! Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho! Ser shakkar payee ho! Kudi da laal pathaka ho! Kudi da saalu paatta ho! Salu kaun samete! Chache choori kutti! Zamidara lutti! Zamindaar sudhaye! Bade bhole aaye! Ek bhola reh gaya! Sipahee far ke lai gaya! Sipahee ne mari eet! Sanoo de de lohri te teri jeeve jodi! Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pit!

Oh beautiful girl, Who will think about you? He is Dulla Bhatti Dulla's daughter got married He gave 1 kg sugar! The girl is wearing a red suit! But her shawl is torn! Who will stitch her shawl?! The uncle made choori! The landlords looted it! Landlords are beaten up then! Lots of innocent guys came to save One innocent boy got left behind The police arrested him! The policeman hit him with a brick! Give us lohri ..long live your couple!

Song Source: The Holiday Spot

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

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