A bonfire burning in oranges and yellows
January 13th, 2018 by Sabine Jansen

Once again it is the time of the year to celebrate Lohri. This traditional festival is celebrated in January, and is thought by many to have originated from the tale of Dulla Bhatti. In the coming days, Sikh communities (as well as other religions) will be celebrating the winter festival of Lohri across the world.

Traditionally the festival was celebrated on, or around the longest night of the year – the Winter Solstice. Communities would light bonfires to protect themselves from the chill of winter and stay out all night to celebrate the successful harvest of the year. In particular, they would celebrate the harvest of crops such as spinach, mustard, radish, and sesame seeds – all of which are still harvested in the originating region of Punjab.


A bonfire burning in oranges and yellows



In Punjabi tradition and folklore, Dulla Bhatti was responsible for rescuing several innocent girls from the clutches of lecherous men. These stories are preserved in folk poetry that has been passed down for generations, and is sung during the festival of Lohri. The legendary Bhatti is believed to have rescued two Brahmin girls from an evil man who wanted them in his harem. Dulla Bhatti is said to have became their godfather, and is believed to have found good husbands for both girls and attended their weddings on the day of Lohri. The girls were thrown lavish weddings which challenged the authority of the emperor at the time. A popular song sung on Lohri goes as follows:

    “Sundri Mundriye hoe

    Who will save you poor one

    Dulla Bhatti is here for you

    The Dulla married off his daughter.”




Despite having originated in the Punjab region of India, today Lohri is celebrated across the world in many different ways. However this winter festival is celebrated, it usually involves a bonfire around which the successful harvestsof the year are celebrated. Food such as rice and popcorn is sometimes thrown into the flames of the bonfire as part of the Lohri celebrations. This originated from the Hindu concept of throwing food into the fire as an offering to the Gods to ensure that the crops for the upcoming year would be blessed.

The festivities are particularly exciting for children of families who are celebrating Lohri. The children are regaled with traditional folklore tales and the adventures of Dulha Bhatti. They often visit neighbours in the area to sing them songs, and ask for gifts of sweets and peanuts. The songs they sing recall the tale of Dulha Bhatti and other folklore stories.


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