HAPPY FELICITATIONS ON LOHRI, MAKKAR SANKRANTI, PONGAL & BIHU FESTIVALS
(ON 13TH , 14TH & 15TH JANUARY 2021)
We’re aware that all the festivals are linked either with change in seasons
Or on certain National festivals well known
Or linked with religious faiths, beliefs and have regional overtones.
Lohri is a winter festivals of repute
Falls in the month of (13th Jan) Paush
Which brings about happiness on the faces of the populace.
This festival marks the end of winter season
With beginning of longer with a little hotter days ahead soon
For farmers, it is one of the happiest occasions.
The farmers start harvesting rabi crops
The crops harvested in winter season.
Rabi Crops include Wheat, Gram, Pea, Mustard, Linseed, Barley, Peas
Start of spring season is a Natural gift
Adds additional spice to our festivities
Besides bringing about smiles and festive moods on these occasions.
Customarily, on Lohri day a bonfire is elegantly lit
Devotees congregate brimming with huge reverence in their heart around it
And take rounds around the fire lit with absolute respect.
And with loving devotion offer, Jaggery (gur), sesame seeds (til)
Sesame coated sugar candy and popcorns into leaping bonfire
The fire lit too shows that it too is enjoying the sacred act more and more.
The skyward leaping fire flames purifies the atmosphere
It also showcases that the fire too is enjoying all acts of hers
In essence, there is hidden joy for devotees in this sacred bonfire.
Gathering partake the sacred parsadas offerings
With satiety writ large in faces of devotees
Offerings too is made to ‘panj tatavas’ five elements of mother nature
Fire, wind, water, ether and earth. Deference
Going around the bonfire with great a reverence
And singing traditional songs with dance with due deference makes a 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, a muslim, 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 then used to get them married to suitable boys of choice
People sing Lohri songs with gusto in his praise
To mark and commemorate and appreciate his good deeds. .
Thence other legend of the origin of Lohri
From the wife of Saint Kabir named ‘Loi’
Who was herself a lady so pious.
Lohri has a sacred link with Makar Sakranti
Being another winter fiesta so legendary
Celebrated one day after Lohri
It is celebrated on a day so fixed
The 14th January – indeed very sacred.
It marks the beginning of solar maagha masa
Makar Sankranti Day is beginning of start of harvest season
And ushering in of pleasant Spring Season
With pan India celebrations.
Makar Sankranti has its origin to the movement of the Earth
Around the Sun and 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 all living beings without bias
And bestows us divinity and wisdom
Thus holding an eternal meaning.
For me, this day has a special significance indeed
Since I saw the first dawn of the day in 1951, a day so sacred
With the grace of my Supreme Lord
Ever since I have been graced with a life so contended
For which I am really thankful to my God, so very benevolent.
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.
One of the most significant festivals of Assam
Which is associate with harvesting season.
Its exclusivity also stems from the fact that it marks the start of Assamese New Year
Thus giving the entire community pride to celebrate this day with great yearning
Pride and a lot of pleasure from community feat.
Bihu dance is performed by the young men and women
With joyous abandon add-on with fast steps and hands with fast movement
With red colour attire signifying vigour and accompaniment with apt music.
Significantly, India is a home to multicultural, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious society. We can pride ourselves in having different festivals too with relevance to religion, caste, culture and traditions. These festivals are seasonal, traditional, custom based, religion based or for that matter any other sacred considerations. Here every caste, religion and region has contributed its mite for enriching the cultural traditions of our land with variation in the cultural mores. Let the reason of the festival may be any but the common thread of all of these is the zest and enthusiasm with which these fairs and festivals are celebrated.
We Indians enjoy all the religious festivals. It may 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, 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 one where Bhangra (dance by men folks) and Gidha (dance by women folks) to the beats of drums which brings vitality and jollity to this celebration. Youngsters, by and large, take pleasure in kite flying and enjoy the occasion.
On this festival, seasonal dry fruits peanuts, coconuts are mixed with jiggery (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 such as Wheat, Gram, Pea, Mustard, Linseed, Barley, Peas and 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. The people take parikarma (rounds) around the bonfire and shower offerings to fire as a mark of respect. Fire ritual or Agnihotra (Specially lit fire – Havan) is the process of purifying the environment and people also consign to the 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 happiness of all along with its benefits to the farming community. Special prayers to the God Almighty God are done in order to get the graces of benevolent God for peace and prosperity of all.. Newly wedded couples and newly born babies receive special attention on this festival. People give charity/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 family from the clutches of lustful and greedy robbers. 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.
Then question arise, 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.
While I was young, I along with my friends used to go to the houses in our neighbourhood and used to sing and get sweets made for this particular day. This song is sung by the youngsters even now on thispious 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. Thereupon, she along with Kabir saw that the help with which he had reached the first storey was with the help of a hanging python.
Sant Kabir’s wife got upset and in desperation uttered: The passion with which he was nursing for her, if he had the same fervour for the God, he could get anything from God as a reward?
Significantly, we know the life and the personage was 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 righteous lifestyle 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.
Om 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 immense 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 channa 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 of energy which helps in growing the crops from sowing to the harvesting season. 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.
Magh Bihu or Rongali Biihu Festival is celebrated in Assam in the month of January. This year, it is being celebrated on 15th January 2021. It is the prominent harvest festival by the farmers. On this occasion, tasty community feast is organized and all people enjoy this feast on this occasion. This festival is unique to Assamese people since Assamese New Year starts from this day. I offer my felicitations from the core of my heart to the entire Assamese community on this momentous occasion. Like any other festivals like Lohri, Baisakhi, etc. Magh Bihu festival too is associated with agriculture; mainly harvesting.
The people enjoy feasts, play melodious music with dancing. Bihu dance is one of the most important part of Assamese culture. It is a group dance performed by the young men and women with brisk movement of hands and other body parts with beating of drums as enchanting music. The olour theme of the dancers is red which signifies joy and vitality.
There are also local traditional and cultural activities which are organized and conducted. The children wear flower garlands. In fact there are three Bihu festivals each of which have unique feature and significance but common feature in all these Bihu festivals is the participation and celebration by all the Assamese.