WISH YOU HAPPY
THE LOHRI, MAKKAR SANKRANTI & PONGAL
(ON 13TH & 14TH JANUARY)
MAY THESE THESE FESTIVALS BRING PROSPERITY AND KINSMANSHIP AMONGST ALL
We all are aware that India is a home to multicultural, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious society. We can pride ourselves in having different festivals too. These festivals are seasonal, traditional, culture based, religion based or for that matter any other sacred considerations. Here every caste, religion and region have contributed its mite for enriching the cultural traditions. One thing is sure that the zeal and enthusiasm that accompanies with these festivals is second to none.
We Indians enjoy all the religious festivals – be it Eid or Prakash Divas/Gurpurab or as a Muslim enjoy Diwali or all of them enjoy Christmas Day together. That is the beauty of India. I do not dispute that hotheads are there in any strata of life, those who do not know about their own religious festivals or of others. One thing which pleases us is the perceptible shine on the faces of every one of us while celebrating any festival! That is the beauty of it all ewmains in tact despite some differences notwithstanding.
Lohri festival is celebrated in Northern Indian states. It is celebrated on 13th January – in the month of Pauch or Magha, one day before Makkar Sankranti. We term this festival as a community based festival where Bhangra (dance by men folks) and Gidha (dance by women folks) to the beats of drums which bring vitality and jollity to the celebration. Youngsters, by and large, take pleasure in kite flying and enjoy the occasion.
On this festival, seasonal dry fruits peanuts, coconut are mixed with jaggery (Gur) and sesame seeds (til) to make the eatables. Besides, milk cakes are specially made and distributed amongst relatives and friends.
Following are some of the reasons for the celebration of Lohri festival:-
It marks the end of winter season and beginning of sowing of some crops and harvesting the others. It infuses vitality and special enthusiasm in the lives of people – especially the farmers. The Lohri festival symbolizes prayer to the fire (Agni puja) in the evening. In the people take parikarma (rounds) around the bonfire and shower offerings to fire. Fire ritual or Agnihotra (Specially lit fire – Havan) is the process of purifying the environment and people also consign to fire a mix of rice, peanuts, walnuts, almonds besides sesame seeds (til) and jaggery to the fire before distributing and taking the same themselves.
It is believed that the fire ritual has a special significance and possesses healing power besides it helps in well-being of all along with its benefits in farming too. Special bounties are asked on this day for the well-being and prosperity of all besides peace in the entire households. Newly wedded couples and newly born babies receive special attention on this festival. People give alms to the needy on this occasion.
Different Legends behind the Lohri festival:-
The legend of Dulla Bhatti (Rai Abdullah Khan) is very popular. It is a legend of a Rajput warrior who saved a damsel in distress belonging to the Hindu religion from the clutches of lustful and greedy officials. The brave Rajput adopted her as his own daughter without let or hindrance and married her off to a young and suitable Hindu boy. He also gave her presents – nine mounds of sugar along with other gifts etc on her marriage. This shows that there was a community feeling during those days. If during those feeling for each others was rampant then why not now! To appreciate his gesture, the people sing the following song describing the event and also mentioning about the beauty of the girl who was saved. We used to go to the houses in our neighbourhood and used to sing and used to get sweets made for this particular day. This song is sung by the youngsters even now on this occasion. :-
Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicaharaa ho!
Dullah bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka ho!
Kudi da saalu paatta ho!
Salu kaun samete!
Chache choori kutti! zamidara lutti!
bade bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
There is also a legend of Sant Kabir and his wife names Loi. He used to love his wife immensely. So much so intense was his passion for his wife that one day, he reached his home in the middle of dark night, travelling from a far off place. The door was closed from inside. His wife was sleeping on the first floor. Finding that there was no ladder, he took the help of a rope hanging from the first floor of his house. When his wife saw him, she was very surprised and asked him as to how he had entered the first storey. There upon, she along with Kabir saw that the help with which he had reached the first storey was with the help of a hanging python.
His wife got upset and in desperation mentioned: The passion which he was having for her, if he had the same fervor for the God, he could excelled in anything including finding the God!
Subsequently, we know the life Sant Kabir who was a mystical poet whose writings had a deep effect on Bhakti Movement and his verses find place in Sri Guru Granth Sahib too.
He was brought up in a Muslim family but was deeply influenced by his teacher Ramananda but he criticized both in his verses because of his close proximity with both and knew ins and outs of these religions. In his writings, he has emphatically mentioned that the God is only with those who follow righteousness and also one who follows a detached mode of life. His followers are known as Kabir Panthis.
It was due to the timely advise of his wife named Loi that Kabir had a huge transformation in his life and became a well known Sant who influenced millions with his writings. Lodi or Loi is also celebrated in his and his wife’s honour who was instrumental in molding him.
MAKKAR SANKRANTI (ON 14TH JANUARY)
Makkar Sankranti is celebrated in the month of Paus (January) Makar Sankranti is the day when the Sun God enters the Northern Hemisphere. Hindus like Greeks worship Sun God – the giver of immense energy. Sun God is termed as the manifest God, having all the glorious divinity. It is worthwhile to mention here that mantra OM ADITYA AYE NOMON and many other mantras are recited in order to get the blessings of the Sun God.
The devout also chant Gyatri Mantra, taken from Rig Veda while making final offering to God. which is from Rig-Veda, as Makkar Sankranti is associated with cosmic event which affects the life of humans immensely.
Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt.
Which means: We meditate and adore thee the Supreme Lord, the Creator of everything, who’s Divine Light illuminates all spheres of activity (physical, mental and spiritual). We pray that this Divine Light may light-up our intellect forever.
This festival is celebrated with gaiety and enthusiasm in all parts of India with different names at different places but the keenness remains the same. Devout get up early in the morning, take bath in holy rivers first take the blessings of their elders and then offer prayers in the temples. After having offered prayers, people give alms to the needy according to their capacity. In the afternoon people share a special Khichri (Hotchpotch – a mix of dall-urdh and dal).
The Pongal festival is celebrated in South India (Especially in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and even in foreign lands such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore etc.). This festival is celebrated for four days (14th to 17th January). This is a harvest festival dedicated to the SUN GOD. The Sun is a huge source energy which helps in growing the crops from sowing to the harvesting. It also includes boiling of the rice of season sanctified to the Sun which is termed as Surya Mangalyam. Not only this, the natural energy in the form of solar energy is being utilized enormously presently.
Every festival is linked with some seasons
Or certain well known occasions.
Lohri a winter festivals of repute
Falls in the month of ( 13th Jan) Paush
Marks the end of winter season
And beginning of longer – a little hotter days ahead soon
For farmers, it is one of the happiest occasions
They start harvesting rabi crops
Start of spring season is a Natural bounty
Adds additional spice to festivities.
(Rabi Crop: Wheat, Gram, Pea, Mustard, Linseed, Barley, Peas)
Traditionally, on lohri day a bonfire is lit
People congregate around it
And reverently offer, Jaggery (gur), sesame seeds (til)
Sesame coated sugar candy and popcorn into leaping bonfire
The skyward leaping fire
Which purifies the atmosphere
It also shows that it (fire) too is enjoying all acts of hers
Gathering partake the sacred offering themselves too as (parsad) offering
Satiety writ large in everybody’s faces.
Offerings too is made to ‘panj tatavas’ five elements of nature
Fire, wind, water, ether and earth
Going around the bonfire with great reverence
And singing traditional songs with dance makes huge difference.
And that too in tune with beating of drums!
Tradition has it that there was a very brave person of repute
Named Dulla Bhatti from lineage of warrior race of the Rajputs
In the reign of Mughal king Akbar
He used to rescue poor girls from the clutches of robbers
And got them married to suitable boys of choice
People sing Lohri songs with gust in his praise.
Thence other legend of the origin of Lohri
From the wife of Saint Kabir named ‘Loi’
Herself a lady so pious.
Lohri too is linked with Makar Sakranti
Which too is another winter festival very famous
Celebrated one day after Lohri celebrations
A day so fixed
14th January – indeed very sacred
It marks the beginning of solar maagha masa
Makar Sankranti is start of harvest festival
And beginning of pleasant Spring Season
Celebrated in all parts of country.
It has its origin to the movement of the earth
Sun movement begins from (Sankranti) one zodiac sign
Into another – Capricorn zodiac (Makar) sign
Two movements are termed as Makar Sakranti.
This day marks the beginning of warmer days
As the sacred months start from this day onwards
Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great fervor
In western and northern India
There is a mention of this day in Mahabharata
As, it is the festival of Sun God
Who gives us light and heat
To living beings without bias
And bestows us divinity and wisdom,
Thus holding an eternal meaning.
Then there is festival called Pongal
Which is dedicated to Sun God
A huge source of energy indeed
Which is life giving
To living beings.