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Social Significance of Lohri - Punjab Harvesting Festival

Social Significance of Lohri – Punjab Harvesting Festival

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. Lohri instill sensitivity among the people towards their environment and culture. The fundamental theory behind the festival of Lohri is the sense of togetherness and the culturally rich legacy of the people of Punjab.

Lohri in Punjab and Haryana have always been celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. They believe in celebrating this harvest festival together and rejoicing it to the fullest. For the masses this festival is a popular occasion for social intercourse and enjoyment. They make a bonfire and roast ‘fresh chholia’ (green gram) in pods with its leaves and stems intact, and eat it. They also sing and dance sitting around the fire. Lohri is thus a community festival and is always celebrated by getting together with neighbors and the relatives.

The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki ki roti and sarson ka saag is quintessential. The prasad comprises of five main items: til (gingelly), gajak (a hardened bar of peanuts in jaggery or sugar syrup), gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya (popcorn). 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.

Therefore, the festival of Lohri has great social significance. This time is considered auspicious for marriages and to undertake new ventures. The farmer, comparatively free from his yeoman’s duties, takes to fun and frolic. The golden color of the ripening corn in the fields pleases him. For newly-weds and newborns, Lohri is a special occasion. Families of the bride and groom get together and celebrate by dancing around the fire and expressing their joy. Lohri is a grand event of social and cultural integration, bringing about unity, amity, harmony among all castes and communities.

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