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Lohri

There are some interesting socio-cultural and folk-legends connected with Lohri.The festival of Lohri from the tale of Dulla Bhatti, a Muslim highway robber who stayed in Punjab during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Besides robbery, he also rescued Hindu girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East. He helped them in getting married to Hindu boys by performing the ceremony following all Hindu rituals and even provided them with dowries. Thereby, though a bandit, he became a hero of all Punjabis. So Lohri song are recited to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.

By the end of the first week of January, small groups of boys ring the doorbell of houses and start chanting the Lohri songs related to Dulla Bhatti. In turn, the people give them popcorn, peanuts, crystal sugar, sesame seeds (til) or jaggery (gur) as well as money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.

Some believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Sant Kabir, for in rural Punjab Lohri is pronounced as Lohi. Others believe that Lohri comes from the word 'loh', a thick iron sheet tawa used for baking chapattis for community feasts. Another legend says that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished in the Holi fire, the latter survived. Eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi (jaggery) is considered to be essential on this day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri.

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