God's Way

Why Lohri is Celebrated and the significance of Lohri for Sikhs?

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Lohri is an auspicious occasion that is celebrated on 13th of January every year. Many people believe that the festival was originally celebrated on winter solstice day, being the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

Lohri marks the end of winter, a time when the sun heads back to the North and stays longer each day warming the ground for the new crops soon to be sown.



Lohri is always associated with Sikhs as it’s their festival and We Sikhs are just following the crowd and celebrating a day. But have you ever asked yourself, What is the significance of Lohri for Sikhs? Why is Lohri an Important festival for Sikhs? Does it have any specific history? Who is Dulha Bhatti wala and how he is linked with Sikhism?

I have tried to explain every question here. So, just another 5 minute of your time and you will understand whether or not Lohri is an Important Festival for Sikhs. Also, it is highly appreciated if you share your views and opinions on Lohri and how Sikhs should go ahead with it.

 

 Why Lohri is celebrated?

Well, there are many reasons of celebrating Lohri. Let’s take it one by one.

Firstly, it is associated with the harvest of Rabi Crop since as per Punjabi farmers, January is a time to harvest sugarcane crops, and therefore it is seen to be a harvest festival. The festival is celebrated all over the Punjab, Delhi, Kashmir and other parts of northern India.

Secondly, the story of Prahalad is associated with Lohri. Prahalad was a great devotee of Parmatma, Waheguru. Lohri and Holika were two sisters. Harnakash ordered Holika to take Prahalad in her lap and sit in the fire with Lohri. Holika vanishes into fire, but Prahalad and Lohri survived. From there, people started celebrating Lohri and burn woods at night and “Pray to Fire” that don’t harm our sons like you didn’t harm Prahalad. Unfortunately, this festival only has importance for boys and girls were considered inferior. People believe that the fire couldn’t burn Prahalad since he was a boy, so in order to pray to fire, it has to be a boy. Strange but true. Sikhism considers men and women as equal. Gurbani says,

ਭੰਡਿ ਜੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਨਿੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਮੰਗਣੁ ਵੀਆਹੁ ॥
From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੰਡਹੁ ਚਲੈ ਰਾਹੁ ॥
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come

Lastly, Lohri is celebrated in remembrance and praise of Dulha Bhatti. Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood, who robbed the rich and distributes the wealth among the poor. Once he rescued a girl who was forcibly taken away and adopted her as his daughter. He then arranged her marriage with the Hindu Boy and gave her a Kilo of Sugar as a marriage gift. He was a hero among the local Punjabis who loved and respect him. Most Lohri songs are sung in praise of Dulha Bhatti which expresses their gratitude to him.

Have you found anything related to Sikhism here? Strange but it is considered as Sikh Festival. Anyways, let’s explore further.

 

How Lohri is celebrated?

Lohri is celebrated in a true spirit of the culture, Punjabi men and women perform Punjabi folk dances around a bonfire; Bhangra and Giddha are popular among them.

Late in the evening, people gather around the bonfire and throw Gachak, Rewri, Peanut and Popcorn into it and sing folk songs.

 

happy lohri for sikhs

During the day, enthusiastic children visit every house and sing Lohri songs asking for Lohri items and no one turned them back empty handed. These children sing old folk songs about Dulha Bhatti.

Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicaharaa ho!
Dullah bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!

 

The Lohri festival assumes greater significance if there has been a happy event in the family during the elapsed year, like the birth of a male child or marriage.

The day ends with a traditional feast of Sarson da Saag, Makki di Roti and a Kheer.

“Lohri is enjoyed between the harvesting and sowing of this winter crop, with lots of joy by family, friends, singing, dancing on folk songs around the bonfire in the evening.”

 

 People celebrating Lohri festival

How Lohri Got its Name?  

There are many assumptions as to how Lohri got its name. Few people assume that the name Lohri is obtained from ‘Loi’, who was the wife of Sant Kabir. Others believe that the word Lohri comes from the word ‘Loh’ which means the light and the warmness of fire. Some people belief says that the festival Lohri is named after Lohri who was the sister of Holika. It is believed that Holika perished in the fire while her sister survived whereas, some say that the items ‘Til’ and ‘Rorhi’ were merged together to form the word ‘Tilorhi’ which eventually got shortened to ‘Lohri’.

Have you found anything related to Sikhism yet? Any religious significance?

Ok, so let’s get to the point now.

 

What is the significance of Lohri for Sikhs?

Lohri does not have any religious significance for Sikhs. Lohri is celebrated by Sikhs majorly because of its strong links to Punjabi Culture. Lohri does not have any roots of Sikhism in it.

So does it means we Sikhs are just following the crowds and celebrating a day that has no meaning for us? The concept of Lohri goes contrary to the teaching of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Since, Sikhs do not Worship Fire or Sun. Taking circle around the bonfire and throwing Sweets, puffed rice and popcorn in the fire and praying to Fire to do not harm our son is not the teaching of Guru Granth Sahib (Do read my Article on “Sikhs are not Hindus –Simplified Version”). Sikhism considers men and women as equal, but Lohri is celebrated when a boy is born or married in the family and girls are considered lower in status than boy. So the question comes Should Sikhs continue with this sexist ritual especially as there are so many murders of baby girls at birth in Punjab?

Under Brahaministic (Bipran Ki Reet) influence, we are adopting these rituals which are not according to our Sikh way of life.

Why Lohri is Celebrated and the significance of Lohri for Sikhs?

 

 

NOTE: The purpose of writing this article is not to hurt the sentimental of anyone or to insult any Faith. It is just to bring the reality to not follow any tradition blindly. We can enjoy and celebrate any festival (even Lohri) but according to the Sikh way of life.

 

Please share your knowledge about Lohri or Gurbani or anything you want to share. Let’s connect and share the knowledge of wisdom.



 


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23 Comments

  1. Jasneet Singh

    January 11, 2015 at 6:33 am

    Like you state yourself, Sikhs celebrate it due to its strong association with Punjabi culture & since farming use to be a significant part of our livelihood and still is (sadly not major though).

    Thus, to come to the point where you have stated “The concept of Lohri goes contrary to the teaching of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.” I believe (note I have stated I believe), most lit the bonfire not to pray to any lords but to keep the tradition of being thankful for a good harvest (which usually the farmers use to do), but no harm in “being thankful for the food we eat” Shukrana !

    Some would also raise the concern about giving importance to First Lohri of Kids and post marriage of bride. In gone-by times it was considered as a reason of bumper harvest, being thankful for the blessings of the Kid/bride and further inclusion into the family and bonding. (No religious significance though), but then our birthdays also have no significance in religion yet we share our joy and are thankful to almighty for the gone by year and the one to come.

    Disclaimer:- These are my views and I don’t tend to offend anyone.
    Satnam Waheguru !

  2. Puneet Singh

    January 11, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Dear Jasneet Singh, First of all thanks for your comment. You have highlighted the very good insights of Lohri. As you told that “most lit the bonfire not to pray to any lords but to keep the tradition of being thankful for a good harvest”, here whom you are thankful too? (I believe Waheguru not Fire). But most of the Sikh people do workship fire because its a part of tradition or punjabi culture. Regarding your second point, there is no harm in celebrating a Lohri when a boy is born or married in the family but why we are not celebrating a Lohri when a girl is born? Gurbani says,
    ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ॥
    So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

    Veerji, the point of writing the article is to inform whether Lohri has any religious significance for Sikhs or not since we are treating Lohri as our biggest festival.
    Bhul chuk Maaf..
    Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa
    Waheguru Ji Ki fateh!!

  3. Jagpreet Singh

    January 11, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Sat Sri Akal ji

    I believe Sikhs are also a part of Punjab and they celebrate it as a cultural thing rather than a religious thing. Had Lohri been a core religious Hindu things, Hindus across the cluntry would’ve celebrated it or had at least lnown the significance. But this is not the case. Lohri is celebrated only by those who are punjabis. Hindus, in general do not celebrate it.

    Let us keep it till culture only and not make anything religious out of it.

    As far the point of lphri celebration for boys is concerned, let us start celebrating for girls as well or even if you bought a new car or a house.

    • Puneet Singh

      January 11, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Ssa Jagpreet Veerji, thanks a lot for sharing your views. You are absolutely right and you have made a right statement to keep it till culture and not make anything religious out of it.

      As you told that Sikhs are part of punjab and Lohri is a Punjabi festival and thus we Sikhs (being Punjabi) are celebrating it. Correct. But there is a bit of difference between Sikhs Faith corresponding to what Punjabi Belief and Faiths are. Punjabi Hindus workship Idol, Fire, Goddesses etc but Sikhs do not. I am just making this point in the article and 2nd one you are already agreed.

      The purpose of this article is not to hurt the sentimental of anyone or to insult any Faith. We should enjoy and celebrate any festival but according to the Sikh way of life.

      • col atamjeet

        January 12, 2015 at 1:31 am

        sikhs are part of punjab and punjabiat. This festival is above religon .It is the cultural bonding that makes sikhs celebrate the festival . Dhulla bhatti was a muslim at time of the mugals in lahore he rescued a hindu girl and got her married so the songs in his praise by all punjabis hindus sikhs and muslims of earstwhile punjab. This festival does not belong to any religon it is a punjabi culture lets follow it.it also marks the downfall of the winter and begning of magh month that is why magi mela is held at mukatsar saab. Its like bihu to assam ,onam to kerela.

        • Puneet Singh

          January 13, 2015 at 12:06 pm

          Dear Col AtamJeet Ji, Thanks for your comment. You are correct that it’s a cultural bonding that makes Sikhs celebrate the festival from long ago. And we should celebrate it but according to the Sikh way of Life. But these days we are forgetting our religious faith and following empty ritual and mislead others.

          Guru Nanak, Ang 3, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji — Those who are faithful do not follow empty religious rituals.

          Guru Nanak, Ang 75, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji — Pilgrimages, fasts, rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship are all in vain. Salvation is achieved only by devoting worship to God.

  4. Tejbeer Kaur

    January 13, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji Ki fateh. As per my knowledge Lohri is a cultural festival only. The religious connection mentioned here with Hinduism (story of holika), is not correct. Holika and prehlaad’s story is related with Holi festival. But I don’t believe that there was any Lohri who was Hirankashypa’s sister too.
    But if lohri was holika’s sister(which I have never heard) then there could be any Hindu connection.
    Talking about Dulla Bhatti, he is a hero only and a hero’s religion doesn’t affect the significance of heroics.
    Lohri is a cultural festival celebrated at the last day of the coldest month Poh by enjoying food and dance around the fire.

    • Puneet Singh

      January 13, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. Thanks for your comment. Yes, Lohri is a cultural festival and it should be celebrated with Fun, Joy and Happiness according to the Sikh way of Life.

  5. Ajay Lamba

    January 13, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Namaskaar Punnet Singh ji
    I am punjabi and till day thought ki lohri mainly punjabia da toyar hain. Mere kuz mittar delhi vich rehnde ne kaafi samay to te lohri nu baare mazze naal celebeate karde ne. Aaj pehlli vaari koi hindu sikh muslim connection lohri naal lag ke dil nu bahut dukh hoya.vesse Hirnakashyap di sirf ik hi behan thi Holika….Lohri koi vi sister nahi si.
    Hun mainu tussi dasso ki being a hindu huin main gurdaware jaana band kar deva???

    Wahe Guruji ka khalsa te wahe Guru ji ki fateh.

    • Puneet Singh

      January 14, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa
      Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!!
      Dear Ajay veerji, The intention of writing this article is not to hurt the sentimental of anyone or to insult any Faith. It is just to bring the reality to not follow any tradition blindly. We can enjoy and celebrate any festival but according to the Sikh way of life.

  6. Pushpinder puri

    January 13, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Good commentary on Lohri. I believe that social and cultural festivals have a lot of value to any society, especially if they go across the religious bounds. This creates a fellowship and good will.

    I am more curious to learn of your views on Diwali celebrations. Sikhs have made a mockery of themselves by calling it a”Bandi Chor Divas” Let’s admit it that this is a Hindu festival which has become a “Social” festival just like Chirstmas. if Sikhs want to enjoy the festivities, they don’t need a lame excuse.

    I will also like to know the significance of the New year evening celebrations. is that a Sikh new year?

  7. Puneet Singh

    January 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Dear Pushpinder Veerji, Thanks for sharing your views. As you said Diwali is a Hindu Festival and we Sikhs are enjoying it with a lame excuse as we are celebrating “Bandi Chor Divas”. Very Interesting Statement.

    Here are my views on Diwali Celebration. To explain the significance of Diwali for Sikhs, Let me start from beginnig. Jahangir ordered to arrest Guru Hargobind Singh Ji (Sixth Guru) and Guru Ji was imprisoned with 52 Hindu Kings and Princes at Gwalior Fort, but soon Jahangir realize his mistake and therefore he ordered to release the Guru Ji but Guru Ji refused to leave unless 52 Kings were not released. Jahangir, initially relented, but then agreed with a condition that only those Kings and Princes would be released who could come out holding the Guru’s Cloak. A Few Days Before DIWALI the Guru was released along with 52 Kings. The day is Known as Bandi Chor Diwas. After his release when Guru reached Amritsar, Diwali was being celebrated since the day Diwali was celebrated by Sikhs marking the victory of righteous!! This is the religious significance for Sikhs to celebrate Diwali. If you are happy to light Firecracker for other reason. You are free to do anything.
    Understand Guru Nanak Dev Ji lines:

    Guru Nanak, Ang 3, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji — Those who are faithful do not follow empty religious rituals.

    Guru Nanak, Ang 75, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji — Pilgrimages, fasts, rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship are all in vain. Salvation is achieved only by devoting worship to God.

    You can enjoy any festival the way you want either it is Holi, Diwali or Raksha bandhan. But this is not Sikh beliefs my dear brother.

    Your next question on the Significance of New Year for Sikhs.
    At the stroke of midnight the current year changes to the next. This is external change thus temporary, impermanent. However Gurbani says, real change is when we change within. So any day could be New if we change our inner Soul.

    ਜੇ ਸਉ ਵਰ੍ਹਿਆ ਜੀਵਣ ਖਾਣੁ ॥ ਖਸਮ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਸੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੨॥:
    If (one) were to live and eat for hundred years, that day (of one’s life) alone would be authentic (acceptable), when (one) recognizes the Lord. ||2||
    (sggs 349).

    ਸੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਸਫਲੁ ਗਣਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਰਾਮ ॥:
    That day is fruitful, (the day) Hari-Prabhoo (Mool, Source, Jot) is realized (sggs 547).

    Read the beautiful article on Sikhs new year here:
    http://www.gurbani.org/gurblog/2014/12/26/happy-new-year/

    if you follow empty ritual you are not faithful to God.

    I believe everyday is a new beginning and everyday is a new year.

    Another thing brother, In this article I am expressing my views, I may be wrong and I am here to learn from you people.

    Bhul Chuk Maaf…

    • Jk

      January 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      I don’t understand these days people writing so many silly thoughts. They believe Sikh have nothing to do with Rakhri , nothing to do with lohri and Basant panchmi.for me Punjab is multi cultural state why all the Sikhs celebrate Christmas it’s nothing to do with Sikhism in uk all Sikh put Christmas tree in there house lights and gifts why. Lohri Rakhri Basant teeyan it’s all punjabi culture so please don’t try to criticise any festival.

  8. Swati

    January 10, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Lohri is not associated with Prahlad’s story. That’s the Holi festival where burning of holika a day before the festival is associated with Prahlad’s story. I think you should verify and crosscheck the information you are going to publish.

  9. Satinder Kaur

    January 13, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Why we connect Gurbani in parts. Celebrations of regional festivals is good practice. We have to see gurbani in wholistic way.

  10. Minee

    January 13, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Very nice article, thanks for such helpful info.

    • Minee

      January 13, 2017 at 6:09 am

      If Lohri is not associated with Sikhism and still if a Sikh wants to celebrate it, it should only be for the sake of celebrating and enjoying the festival with friends and should not be celebrated with religious sentiments as praying to the fire and gender inequality is against Sri Guru Granth Sahibji Maharaj Ji’s teachings.

  11. Kulvinder Singh

    January 13, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I am okay with taking the cultural celebration globally and explaining how it could be religious, social or secular. Isn’t that what has happened to Christmas? Kids may only know of Santa. For Sikhs everywhere to know this celebration for a new couple or child to have come into the world is a good enough reason. Have Lohri events, bonfires, parties, dances and yes of course correct any gender inequality and recognize how the poor were unable to marry daughters unless there was dowry historically.

  12. Sukhdev Singh

    January 13, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    This is very thought provoking. I agree that we should not follow any rituals blindly and we must make sure they are within Gurmat. However, I also see the benefits of having a cross religion festival. However, for Sikhs, we must enjoy these festivals within Sikhi ways. For example, let’s say you celebrate both Girls and Boys, do not serve alcohol or meat, and don’t throw anything into the bonfire. You can even start off the day by doing a prayer first and thanking God for all of your children. Can you have a bonfire, have a gathering, dance and sing anyway? Is that within Gurmat? Is dancing within Gurmat?

    • Sukhdev Singh

      January 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      I guess my point was that as long as we don’t break any rules of Sikh Rehat for example, drinking alcohol, gender inequality, we give thanks to Waheguru before we do any celebration, shouldn’t it be okay to celebrate?

      • Kiana

        May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

        Now we know who the sesnible one is here. Great post!

  13. RS Dhillon

    January 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    We should rightly celebrate religious festivals but it does not mean that we boycott cultural festivals. We should avoid tunnel vision mentality. Celebrstion of all festivals gives us joy, peace and happiness.

  14. Shrishti

    October 31, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Beautiful post! Punjabi culture have their own style, lohri is one such example of zeal and enthusiasm. With huge excitement, friends and families gather together to rejoice the moment but it is important to know the worth of any festival before celebrating it. Another my favorite punjabi festival is Guru Parv that is approaching soon. Would love it if you can share an article on it as well.
    Shrishti

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