India is a land of fairs, festivals and festivities and Jammu and Kashmir is no exception to this. The people of Duggar Pradesh celebrate much festival and the festival of Lori is one such festival celebrated by Duggar. Lori is the festival celebrated in the whole of north India and Duggar celebrate the festival of Lori with great pomp and show and take pride in celebration of this festival. Lori is celebrated one day before Makar Sankaranti and it is considered the harbinger of spring season and the people of northern India including Jammu take the festival of Lori as the beginning of spring season and they feel that climate change takes place from the day of Lori. It is especially celebrated by the children and they take great enjoyment in the celebration of Lori and make merry and dance. The children and the young people go from door to door and seek offerings from the householders and the people as well offer money to those going from door to door. People sing and dance to the tunes of the drums and take great delight in the celebration of Lori. The importance of Lori festival and the folklore connected with it is very great in Duggar culture, tradition and rituals and Duggar attach much importance to the celebration of Lori festival. The festivities of Lori remain at the evening before Makar Sankaranti. On the evening of Lori all the members of the family assemble around a fire and offer some dry fruits to the fire and make merry and dance. Lori is essentially a harvest festival mostly celebrated in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu. People in Jammu celebrate it with great fun, excitement and enthusiasm. The customs and traditions may slightly vary from one region to another but the basically all of them are attached to the harvesting of the Rabi crop. The people of north India including Jammuites celebrate the festival of Lori as the end of winter solstice. The harvested fields and front yards are lit up with flames of bonfire and people sit around it and engage into singing, dancing and merry making. Lori signifies the fertility of joy of life. People sit around the bonfire and throw puffed rice, sweets and popcorn into flames. In the morning children of the locality gather in their new dress and go to every home singing songs of praise of Dulla Bhatti or Robin Hood of Punjab. Dulla Bhatti used to rob the rich people and distribute the wealth among the poor and underprivileged. People give the children money, sweets, peanuts etc. The evening is known as Lori loot. The children sing ‘Dabba Bharaya Leera Da, Ai Ghar Ameera Da’ which means – ‘Box filled with cloths strips, this house is rich’ from where they get good gifts and those who weren’t generous had to face a bunch of kids chanting ‘Hukka Bahi Hukka -Ae Ghar Bhukka’ meaning ‘this house is full of miseries.’
As the sun sets in the evening, huge bonfires are set and lit up in the harvested fields or in front of house. For that purpose, logs of wood are piled up together and the fire is lit. The significance and legends about Lori festival are many. Lori is the first of India’s rich and diverse mélange of festivals. It is celebrated with great pomp and shows as well as energy across different regions the country and in Jammu it is celebrated in a special manner in the new calendar year. In north India and predominately Punjab the Lori festival is associated with harvesting season. The significance and legends about Lori festival are many and these link the festival to the Punjab region. It is believed by many that festival marks the passing of winter solstice. Lori marks the end of winter and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the suns journey to northern hemisphere by the people in the northern region of the Indian subcontinent. It is observed the night before Magi, also known as Makar Sankaranti and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Vikrami calendar it typically falls on the same date every year that is 13th January. Lori is an official holiday in Punjab, Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The festival of Lori is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims and this strengthens the communal harmony and exhibits our unity in diversity. In northern India and predominately Punjab this harvesting festival begins the festivities of spring. The festival of Lori is said to commemorate Dulla Batti’s bravery and his resistance against Mughal rulers. As already said the auspicious festival of Lori is celebrated by Punjabis, Haryanvis, Dogras of Jammu with great joy. The children and young people specially celebrate this festival by singing and dancing to the tunes of the drum beats. Children make merry and enjoy by dancing round the bonfires and offering rice, peanuts and Raveri to the fire. In Punjab Pakistan, it is not observed at official level, however Hindus and Sikhs and some Muslims observe the festival in rural Punjab and the cities Faisalabad and Lahore. Mohammad Tariq, former director of Faisalabad Arts Council believes it is important to keep the festival alive as Lori is celebrated in Pakistan, Punjab and in Indian Punjab. The history of Lori, a seasonal festival of north India is as old as that of story of Indus valley civilization itself. The festival of Lori in fact marks the end of winter and the coming of spring and the New Year. The fires lit at night ,the hand warming the song and dance and the coming together of an otherwise atomized community are only some of the features if this festival. The Lori of north India coincides with Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankarati in Bengal, Magha Bihu in Assam, Tai Pongal in Kerala ,all celebrated on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. There are some interesting socio -cultural and folk legends connected with Lohri. The ancient significance of the festival is it being a winter crop season celebration and is linked to Punjab region. A popular folklore links Lori to the tale of Dulla Bhatti a Rajput tribe. The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legand of Dulla Bhatti whose father was a Zamindar who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Punjab girls from the tyranny of foreign rulers. Therefore the festival of Lori is also an occasion for remembering Dulla Bhatti and his bravery. In brief traditionally it is a community bonfire where people gather around it, sing songs, munch on festive delights and make merry. In brief, the festival of Lohri and the culture, customs, rituals and roots should be kept alive and thus the festival should be celebrated in a befitting manner.
(The author is a columnist, social and KP activist).