Lohri is a Punjabi festival that marks the end of winter, and the beginning of longer and warmer days where farmers are ready to sow and grow new crops. Lohri is the ‘renewal of life’ which sees to the beginning of a period of ‘peace, abundance, happiness and fertility’. Some Hindus and Sikhs, will recite prayers and acknowledge Lohri as an auspicious time, however not everyone sees the festival as religiously rooted just culturally significant.
It is celebrated with the community dancing around a large bonfire after sunset. In the day, children visit local houses, knocking on the door for gifts. Following the celebrations, everyone gathers for a traditional meal of makke di roti and sarson da saag (corn flour flat bread and mustard greens).
In Faisalabad, Lohri is celebrated with a shared culture at the forefront, bringing in Christians and Muslims into the celebration.
The festival helps people to ‘put aside hatred and discord, in order to create a harmonious society.”‘- Asif Hoat, Artist
One of the stories behind Lohri is the ‘Asian Robin Hood’. This is the tale of The Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys of the village, and provided them with dowries.
On screen, the most famous Lohri celebrations were in Veer-Zaara. Here we see Pakistani girl, Zaara, celebrate Lohri wearing a traditional Punjabi outfit, with Indian Veer and his family. Mirroring the Bollywood depiction, Lohri is a reminder that we are more than our religion, sect or ethnicity and celebrations should be an opportunity for communities to come together.