Nation celebrates Lohri and Makar Sakranti; History and significance

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Flipboard
  • Email
  • WhatsApp
Lohri and Makar Sakranti
Lohri and Makar Sakranti

Los Angeles : Today millions will smile and take part in festivities following Lohri and Makar Sankranti celebrations.

President Pranab Mukherjee also greeted people for the three festivals- Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal - which will be celebrated across the country on Friday.

His address to the nation read: "On the joyous occasion of Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal, I convey warm greetings and best wishes to all fellow citizens in India and abroad. Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal are expressions of joy and prosperity ushered in by a fresh harvest. May the celebrations of these festivals bind all sections of our society together with the spirit of love, compassion and joy. May these festivals which celebrate the hard work of our farmers and offer gratitude to Mother Nature bring happiness, peace and prosperity in every one's life."

The nation on Friday geared to welcome both the festivals with the greetings of Pongal. All the three festivals mark the harvest festivals and the beginning of the end of season, giving way to spring and summers. 

Their onslaught is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops and other crops like sugarcane. 

Punjabi farmers also observe Lohri (Maghi) as their new financial New Year.

Folk legends associated with Lohri

The cultural history of Punjab states that Bhatti, a Rajput tribe during the reign of Akbar, inhabited parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Gujarat (now in Pakistan). One of the king, Dulla Bhatti from Pindi Bhattian, was put to death by the Mughal king for revolting against him. Bhatti was like Robin Hood who used to steal from rich and distribute among poor. Once he also rescued an abducted girl and adopted her as his own. Street singers can often be heard singing praises of the man in the folk song: "Dulla Bhatti ho! Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho! Ser shakar pai ho!" (Dulla gave his daughter a kilo of sugar as a marriage gift). ) Interestingly, they claim that Maharaja Ranjit Singh is one of its scions.

Lohri festival is dedicated to fire and the sun god and traces a time when the sun transits the zodiac sign Makar (Capricorn), and moves towards the north. The three munchies associated with this festival are Gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns. Eating gajjak, sarson da saag and makki di roti on the day of Lohri is also a tradition in Punjab. It is also traditional to eat 'til rice'--sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in various parts of India marking the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days and is of religious significance. 

It is predominantly a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout India, from north to south and east to west. It is celebrated from lengths to breaths of India and is called as Pongal in South, Lohri in North and Uttarayan, Maghi, Khichdi in some other parts of India.

On this day, til-gul i.e. sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed among all. It is celebrated every year on January 14. The day is believed to bring in prosperity and peace for all.

People on this holy day take a dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. The bathing is believed to wash away sins.

Makar Sankranti also marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh while in South one of the most difficult pilgrimages of Shabrimala ends on this auspicious day. 

People believe that by taking dip in the holy water their sins are cleaned and if someone dies on this day then they are not reborn but go directly to heaven.

Lohri would be celebrated on Friday and Makar Sankranti and Pongal on Saturday. The night of Lohri is considered the longest night of the year.