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Lohri: Festival to celebrate fertility and flame of life
Lohari is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti and this year the festival falls on January 13. For Punjabis, Lohri is more than just a harvest festival.

PUNJABIS DEEM Lohri as a cultural festival and display of a joyous way of life. In Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and Delhi, people gather around bonfires to sing, dance and have a feast. They throw brown sugar, sweets, ground nuts, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames and sing popular songs and exchange greetings.

Often, Lohri reminds me of my childhood days at Kurukshetra, now in Haryana, when on this day, my friends and me as children, used to go from door to door to collect funds, fuel and eatables for the community bonfire, which was lit up in the evening to feast and sing around.

The gatherings and celebrations often made Lohri a community festival those days. But, now the festival has been commercialized with hospitality industry is getting into the fray with event managers thrown into it.

Moreover, in new clothes, we as children use to participate in 'agni puja' involving going around the fire called 'parikrama' and distribution of prasad. This symbolised celebrating the flame of life, for abundant crops in the fields and prosperity in the society. In Kurukshetra, the ninth month of the lunar calendar marked by Lohhri is considered most auspicious time of the year. It is believed that during this month Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly to bless good times and prosperous life.

The first Lohri of a newlywed bride and a new born child is considered very auspicious and important and celebrated with great zeal in most Panjabi families.

Here is my acrostic describing LOHRI: L: Lighting of bonfire to; O: Observe the harvest festival with; H: Hearty celebrations to; H: Honour life-giving sun and fire; R: Revere the fertility of land and women to; and I: Integrate love and life.

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