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Social Significance
Though Lohri festival has no religious significance but it holds a great social significance and is celebrated as a day of imparting social love to one and all. The festival of Lohri is meant to relieve people from worldly day to day routine, and make them relaxed, cheerful and happy. It is the time when people from all castes and social strata come together forgetting all past differences and grievances. Every year Lohri succeeds in bridging the social gap, as people visit homes, distribute sweets and greet each other.
Apart from this, the festival of Lohri is related to the harvest season. Harvest and fertility festivals a special significance for an agrarian country like India. Punjab being a predominantly agricultural state that prides itself on its food grain production, it is little wonder that Lohri is its one of the most significant festival. Thus, Lohri is symbolic of ripening of the crops and of copious harvest. Lohri instill sensitivity among the people towards their environment and culture. The fundamental theory behind the festival of Lohri is the sense of togetherness and the culturally rich legacy of the people of Punjab.
Lohri in Punjab and Haryana have always been celebrated with much exuberance and fanfare. They believe in celebrating this harvest festival together and rejoicing it to the fullest. For the masses this festival is a popular occasion for social intercourse and enjoyment. They make a bonfire and roast 'fresh chholia' (green gram) in pods with its leaves and stems intact, and eat it. They also sing and dance sitting around the fire. Lohri is thus a community festival and is always celebrated by getting together with neighbors and the relatives.
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki ki roti and sarson ka saag is quintessential. The prasad comprises of five main items: til (gingelly) , gajak (a hardened bar of peanuts in jaggery or sugar syrup) , gur (jaggery) , moongphali (peanuts) , and phuliya (popcorn). There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolises a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.
Therefore, the festival of Lohri has great social significance. This time is considered auspicious for marriages and to undertake new ventures. The farmer, comparatively free from his yeoman's duties, takes to fun and frolic. The golden color of the ripening corn in the fields pleases him. For newly-weds and newborns, Lohri is a special occasion. Families of the bride and groom get together and celebrate by dancing around the fire and expressing their joy. Lohri is a grand event of social and cultural integration, bringing about unity, amity, harmony among all castes and communities.
Regional Names
Lohri is celebrated throughout the country in different forms, having various regional names as a harvest festival. It is called Pongal in the South, Bhugali Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and Sankranti in the central part of the country. Modes of celebrating Lohri are also different, but the message conveyed by the festival, that of setting aside differences and rejoicing by celebrating the end of the harvest season and the chilly winter, is the same. The various regional names of Lohri are:
Uttarayan: Uttarayan, traditionally believed to be the starting point of the sun's northward journey, is celebrated according to the solar calendar on 14th January. When the sun enters the orbit of a rashi from another, it is called sankranti . Uttarayan is celebrated all over Gujarat but the excitement is high at Ahmedabad, Surat, Nadiad and Vadodara.
International Kite Festival: From dawn to dusk, people of all ages fly kites rejoicing in the spirit of the International Kite festival of Gujarat. Falling on 14th January, the sky is enlivened by kites of different colors and hues. Kites soar in the sky, their lines moving as if alive. Crowded rooftops, fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other, and delicious Gujarati feast are the hall-marks of the day.
Pongal: In south, Pongal is a festival when god is praised with a simple faith and sincerity. Old vices are all washed out and all that is good is welcomed in this New year. This festival is of all living things, who look up to the heaven in joy and thankfulness to God for everything that He gives to man specially peace and happiness and the feeling of brotherhood.
Makar Sankranti: Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of Uttarayan, the Sun's northward journey. Makar is called Capricorn in the western astrological calendar. Makar Sankranti falls on 14th of January every year.
Thai Pongal: The Thai Pongal Festival is an occasion to celebrate fulfillment of their vows to Lord Murugan. It is one the biggest festival days after Mahasivarathri for the followers of Lord Shiva.
Bihu / Bohaggiyo Bhishu: Bihu is the most important non-religious festival of the Assamese people. People of this state observe it every year irrespective of their class and caste. It has been observed from time immemorial and has been adjusting itself at different ages taking into consideration the changed situation of a particular age.
Ganga Sagar: Situated on an island in the Sunderbans, Ganga Sagar is a lovely destination where culture and religion mingle in peace. With the mild winter of gangetic West Bengal, the season to continues all year round. Here Ganga sagar mela is held that is one of the largest fair in India.
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