Happy Lohri, and have a great New Year. As we celebrate Lohri today to bid adieu to the cold winter, we also take the occasion as a thanksgiving day to the Almighty for giving us good crops and prosperity.
Lohri is essentially a festival meant for propitiating the Sun God. At this time, other festivals like Makar Sankrati, Pongal etc. are also celebrated. All these festivals seem to veer round Lord Sun who is central to all.
It is in this mythical sense that Lohri is celebrated in the North to let mankind live and thrive. The Sun is celestially believed to be a great giver to let human life go on smoothly. Hindu religion also has it that sun worship brings prosperity for all.
Lohri, being central to Punjab, seems to have acquired its name from 'Loh', a thick iron sheet (tawa) used for baking 'chapatis' for the community langar (meals). 'Loh' too signifies the supply of heat by which to bake and cook.
Another mythical reference has it, because the rays of the Sun shower its benedictions, water is offered to the sun as a part of daily puja at the time of sunrise.
The significance of Lohri in Punjab has another legend. They say it comes at the 'sankranti' time when Punjab heralds the New Year.
Lohri bonfires are deemed as the replica of Sun itself. Seeing the Lohri revellers make it round the ring of fire presents a rare spectacle of religious significance. Maybe, it is a festival linked to the atmospheric physical changes.
We find people sitting round the bonfires, talking, laughing, exchanging pleasantries, praying for prosperity as they make offerings of various things into the simmering embers.
Thus goes on Loh providing food and fun to the people as a reward for their thankfulness and prayers. Legend has it that it is because of Lohri that the whole year would pass with peace and prosperity due to the grace of mother earth. Mother earth owes it to Lord Sun for a bumper production.
Thus, Lohri is essentially a festival of love, peace and prosperity.