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Lohri is an extremely popular festival celebrated by the Punjabi people. This agricultural winter festival is celebrated in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttrakhand and Jammu.
The origins of Lohri are many and link the festival to Punjab. Many people believe the festival was originally celebrated on winter solstice day, being the shortest day and the longest night of the year. With time, the festival spread to the states adjoining Punjab Sindh, Jammu, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
There are many origins of Lohri: all forming part of folklore. However, the main theme of Lohri is the belief that Lohri is the cultural celebration of the winter solstice. Lohri is meant to be celebrated on the shortest day of the year. A key feature of Lohri is the bonfire. Lighting of the fire has been common in winter solstice festivals throughout time: it signifies the return of longer days. For some the bonfire has a religious meaning, a remnant of pagan origins, perhaps? For others, the bonfire is no more than a tradition.
Punjabis, irrespective of their religion, continue to practice their Punjabi Folk Religion. Respect to the seasons and the natural elements of fire, wind, water and the earth is very important. Lohri is a festival dedicated to the end of the Winter season whereas Teej (known as Teeyan in Punjabi) is dedicated to the rain/Monsoon season and Basant is dedicated to the Spring season.
Lohri is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. People take peanuts,flour, butter and various food items to places of religious worship to thank God for a good harvest.