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Punjab, famously known as the breadbasket state of India attaches a great significance to Lohri. Lohri is an auspicious festival of feasts & food and people residing in Punjab celebrate it with zeal & verve.
The Indian Trick-or-Treat!
In various places of Punjab, about 10 - 15 days before Lohri, groups of young kids go trick-or-treating to collect the logs for Lohri bonfire, grains & jaggery. The trick they use to collect their Lohri treat is tosmear a fellow group member's face with ash & tie a rope around his waist and represent him as the deterrent for people who refrain from giving Lohri items.
The boys sing local Lohri songs while asking for Lohri items. If not given enough, the householder is given an ultimatum to give more otherwise the boy tied to the rope will be loosened into the house so that he can go around smashing the clay pots and dirtying the indoors.
This culture continues on the day of Lohri as well, when kids go around collecting their treats in form of sweets like gur and gajak.
Kites to Fly High !
Lohri celebration is incomplete without kiting. People residing in Punjab fly kites on the day of Lohri & in few parts of Punjab, on the next day of Lohri (called the Maghi day) to honor the heroic-deeds of the fighters of Chali Mukte , who had sacrificed their lives while defending the attack of the imperial army.
Skies of Punjab don a colorful look on these days as people from every corner, and from every age group fill it with kites of different sizes, shapes and hues.
The main focus of Lohri is the bonfire. In the evenings, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in thefront yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle around the bonfire (which is known as Parikrama) and throw puffed rice, popcorn and other munchies into the fire, shouting"Aadar aye dilather jaye" which translates into "May honor come and poverty vanish!"
People throw sticks of sugarcane into the fire and an aroma of burning sugar spreads in the atmosphere. After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad. Girls light fireworks and sparklers and people sing and dance till the wee hours of the morning.
Feasts & Foods
Lohri is the festival of foods & feasts and it goes without saying that the food prepared in Punjab during this day is extravagant. Women in the families come together to prepare a huge traditional meal. It is traditional to eat gajak, sarson da saag with makki di roti, radish,ground nuts and jaggery on this day . Also eaten on this day is "til rice"which is made by mixing jaggery, sesame seeds and rice.
The Prasad distributed after the parikrama around the bonfire also comprises of til, gajak, gur, moongphali, phuliya & popcorn.
Songs & Dances
Singing & dancing form an intrinsic part of the celebration. Lohri dances are very much a part of the heritage of Punjab. People wear their nicest & brightest clothes & come to dance bhangra, gidha, jhoomer, luddi, or kikli to the beat of dhol.
Many traditional Lohri songs celebrating and praising the Robin hood of Punjab Dulla Bhatti are sung & everybody rejoices . This continues till the wee hours of the morning, and little children sleep in their mother's laps.
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