Lohri (India, Punjab)
Lohri is celebrated mostly by Sikhs and Hindus from the Punjab region. It marks the end of the winter season and also the time of a major harvest for Punjabi farmers. It is also a time to celebrate fertility, so new marriages or new babies receive the blessings of the elders as a part of the festivities. The lighting of a bonfire during this winter festival is an ancient tradition.
Children go house to house singing songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood, who robbed from the rich and helped the poor. As they do this they collect gifts (known as Lohri) sugar candies, peanuts and popcorn. These are distributed at night during the festival and are also thrown into the bonfire, representing the burning of the old year and starting the new.
A ritual phrase shouted during this activity is "Aadar aye dilather jaye" which translates as "May honor come and poverty vanish." Singing and dancing are an integral part of the celebration. People wear their brightest and most colorful clothes, and surround the fire to dance to dhol drums playing the bhangra and gidda rhythms:
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