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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 3 Lohri - Celebration of the winter solstice.
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3 - Celebration of the winter solstice. In Hindi, it’s called Lohri.
Do you know about the festival native to the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana celebrated at the end of winter each year? It’s a major Punjabi festival that celebrates the return of the sunny season in the region.
In this lesson we’ll talk about this Punjabi festival, called Lohri, which is celebrated each year on January 13th.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What liberty do young boys and girls enjoy on Lohri?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Lohri is a harvest festival. According to the traditional Hindu Calendar, the month spanning from mid-December to mid-January, called Paush or sometimes just Poh in Punjabi, is the coldest of the year. Days are short and the sun, or Sooraj, is the farthest it ever gets from the Earth. The last day of the month of Paush or Poh – January 13 - is celebrated as Lohri in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana (Northern India).
About 20-25 days before Lohri, kids roam around gathering wood for a Lohri pyre, which is lit up on Lohri day in each neighborhood. A few days before Lohri, kids go from house to house asking for Lohri items. The act of asking for sweets and money is called Lohri Booty. The most common sweets given on this day are made out of sesame seeds, or Til, peanuts, groundnuts, jaggery and almonds. These snacks are known as gajak, rewri, and mewa. Some people prefer to give money to kids so they can buy the sweets themselves. On Lohri day, these foods are first given as offerings to the fire, and then distributed as blessed food among those gathered.
On Lohri night, people gather and light up the traditional pyre together. They take revolutions around the fire, called Aag in Hindi, distribute a snack made of sugar and sesame seeds called Rewris, and enjoy traditional Punjabi meals. Food is accompanied by traditional folk dance of Punjab. The dance performed by men is called Bhangra and the women’s dance is Gidda, both of which are danced to the beats of the very famous punjabi musical instrument, the Dhol.
The men’s dance, Bhangra, is performed in a traditional Punjabi lungi and turban along with Punjabi lyrics. It’s a vigorous dance and has become an integral part of Lohri celebrations.
Traditional Lohri songs mention Dulla Bhatti, who was a famous man 500 years ago in undivided Punjab. Not only was he a messiah of the poor, but also saved thousands of young girls from slavery and married them off into good families. Because of his good deeds, Lohri festival also serves as a celebration of Dulla Bhatti.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What liberty do young boys and girls enjoy on Lohri?
During the Lohri gathering in the evening, boys and girls are allowed to flirt with each other. They can also openly express their love for someone in the group or reply to a proposal without their family’s permission.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate the joys of harvest and spring in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!