Lohri. Celebration Of Agni, Celebrating The Male Child ? | Sikh Philosophy Network
  • Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Lohri. Celebration Of Agni, Celebrating The Male Child ?

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,206
Sadly, the image attached to this thread is from the New York Times and was titled the Image of the Day, January 13, 2012. A turbaned Sikh man, to quote:..."prays as he takes a ritualistic circle around a bonfire during the Lohri festival in Amritsar, Punjab. Singing and dancing around a bonfire is an intrinsic part of Lohri, the festival that marks the beginning of the harvest season and the end of winter in north India."


Lohri has it roots in Punjab and the festival is grounded in Punjab culture. There are the origins of its celebration among some Sikhs. But Lohri is not a Sikh festival. Let's read what it is about.


http://religion.answers.wikia.com/wiki/Do_sikh_celebrate_lohri Article begins.

Lohri marks the end of winter on the last day of Paush, and beginning of Magha (around January 13 and 14) names of Hindi months. Lohri, fundamentally an agricultural festival, is connected with merry-making. There’s belief that worshipping the sun, the energy giver, leads to harmony, prosperity and peace.

Lohri is essentially a festival dedicated to fire and the sun god. Fire is associated with concepts of life and health by the Hindu religion. It is the representative of the sun, and is thus related, on the one hand with rays of light, and on the other with gold. It is the time when the sun transits the zodiac sign Makar (Capricorn), and moves towards the north. The new configuration lessens the ferocity of winter, and brings warmth to earth. It is to ward off the bitter chill of the month of January that people light bonfires, dance around it in a mood of bonhomie and celebrate Lohri.

That is why the Lohri fire gets sanctified and is venerated like a deity. On this occasion, people offer peanuts, popcorn and sweets made of til — chirva, gajak and revri — to propitiate fire as a symbol of the sun god.

Interestingly, though not strangely, the same festival in Tamil Nadu is known as Pongal, in Gujarat and Bengal as Makar Sankranti, and in Assam as Magha Bihu.


There are some interesting socio-cultural and folk-legends connected with Lohri. According to the cultural history of Punjab, Bhatti, a Rajput tribe during the reign of Akbar, inhabited parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat (now in Pakistan). Dulla Bhatti, Raja of Pindi Bhattian, was put to death by the Mughal king for revolting against him. The tribal mirasis (street singers) trace the history of the tribe and interestingly claim Maharaja Ranjit Singh as one of its scions.

This is particularly a happy occasion for couples who for the first time celebrated Lohri after their marriage and also the first Lohri of the son born in a family. Children visit homes in the neighbourhood and sing songs.

Ceremonies that go with the festival of Lohri usually comprise making a small image of the Lohri goddess with gobar (cattle dung), decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. The final ceremony is to light a large bonfire at sunset, toss sesame seeds, gur (jaggery), sugar-candy and revries in it, sit round it, sing, dance till the fire dies out. People take dying embers of the fire to their homes.

In Punjabi village homes, fire is kept going round the clock by use of cow-dung cakes. The men folk of the villages perform bhangra (an energetic Punjabi dance) on this day that is also associated with the ripening of crops. The dance manifests the vigour and vitality and exuberance of the people, in anticipation of money coming in after the cutting of a good harvest. During Lohri celebration, the drum plays a very important part. It provides the basic accompaniment to most of folk music.

Now lets see some basics of Sikhism. Starting with the meaning of mool mantra (the basic sikh principle): Ik Onkar ,Satnam, Karta Purukh, Nirbhau, Nirvair, Akal Murat, Ajooni Sabhan(g), Gurprasad " God is one .. Truth is his name ... He is the creator ...Fearless ...Without enmity .... the Immortal ...Self illuminated... and is obtainable by the grace of Guru. Now a main focus of sikh teachings is ONENESS of God. That is God is one, In English he/she is called as God, in Hindi Bhagwaan, by Muslims as Allah and by Sikhs as Waheguru. We find countless hymns in Guru Granth sahib emphasizing this oneness of God. A result that Sikhs believe in one god, a Sikh does not believe in so-called gods: rain god, sun god, river god, etc. as are common in Hinduism and some other religions and cultures .

....
Now in the light of above there is no way we can connect Sikhism and celebration of Lohri .

Sikhs do not worship fire. Unfortunately, many misguided sikhs do worship fire or Lohri because of its strong links to Punjabi culture.

Now this brings us to another question. Which is summed wonderfully “I am a Sikh born and raised in England who is sick and tired of the conflict of tradition and religion. If our religion was formed to move away from Hindu beliefs, then why are we still living and performing their traditions and rituals????” We need to understand that there are certain customs prevalent in Punjab and Punjabi culture which attack the very roots of Sikhism. Sikhs cannot afford to glorify those traditions in name of Punjabi culture. Now worshipping of fire God is against the basic Sikh concept of one God; so Lohri by no means should be celebrated in Sikh families. More over the way of its celebration, wherein food items are thrown into the burning fire is also reminiscent, of the yagna being done by Hindu saints for pleasing fire god. The reason for overwhelming acceptance of Lohri in Sikh families can be attributed to the times when Sikhs were forced to live in forests owing to religious persecution by Mughals/Muslim rulers when Hindu and non-Sikh practices crept into gurudwras, as gurdwaras were being looked after by Mahants or non-Sikhs.

Negative Social effect of Lohri celebration: With the passage of time people started celebrating the “first Lohri “ of a couple and “first Lohri of a new born “Now when people celebrate first Lohri of couple it is an occasion to extract gifts from the family of bride. And when it is celebrated for new born child, it is mostly celebrated for male child though some people have started celebrating it for female child too. And this again is made into an occasion to extract gifts from the family of the mother of new born. This social aspect was given for your info. Irrespective and inspite of these effects, Sikh families should not celebrate the festival of lohri as it does not go along with teachings of Sikh gurus .
Article ends




Now I have read on many Sikh sites, including SPN, that hardliners should lighten up and go with the flow. Lohri after all is a great way to come together now that the dreary and barren time of winter comes to a close. We can rejoice through dance and song and gathering together. Soon the sun, and its fires, will warm the earth, our chilled bones, and our souls. Soon these dark moments, when the sun has waned, with its dark cold days, will come to an end. We can even sweeten things, and make our celebrations seem more Sikh, by quoting pangatees from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that celebrate the elements, sky, the sun, the weather, nature, all of this supposedly compatible with those things that are celebrated during Lohri. These too will make Lohri seem more in tune with Sikhi. So some say.

What are we talking about? When we make a show of making sacrifices to agni, do we also think that such an appeal to the divine fire will cause the earth to quicken, as the embryo quickens in the womb? Those things that are celebrated during Lohri revolve around a fervent wish that nature must eventually revive, and that the fertility of fields, animals and mankind will not fail in the coming year. That all will survive the barrenness of winter. To that end sacrifice to agni is also a prayer for sons.

Or are we just looking for an excuse to have a party? Think again! Someone here at SPN once asked, "Is the Quom in a Coma?" Celebrating Lohri, do we not give our tacit permission to SGPC to celebrate, even spend the wealth of the panth, at Kumbh Mela? If we are Sikhs, we cannot have it both ways.
 
Last edited:

Chaan Pardesi

Writer
SPNer
Oct 5, 2008
428
770
London & Kuala Lumpur
Lohrri is NOT a sikh festival.NO where in the following article it mentions anything near or resembles any thing Sikhi or Sikh festival.Some people just out of ego like to show and do what they feel.But the SikhGurduaras are NOt such places to please these foolish indiviudals to do as they please and abuse the sanctity of the Sikh faith.

It is absolutely nonsense to compare with arti etc as these issues too have crept into teh faith and should not be there, but the dear babas have managed to hang on to it and continue to mislead the sikhs.

In Punjab, the breadbasket of India, wheat is the main winter crop, which is sown in October and harvested in March or April. In January, the fields come up with the promise of a golden harvest, and farmers celebrate Lohri during this rest period before the cutting and gathering of crops.

According to the Hindu calendar, Lohri falls in mid-January. The earth, farthest from the sun at this point of time, starts its journey towards the sun, thus ending the coldest month of the year, Paush, and announcing the start of the month of Magh and the auspicious period of Uttarayan. According to the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna manifests himself in his full magnificence during this time. The Hindus 'nullify' their sins by bathing in the Ganges.

In the morning on Lohri day, children go from door to door singing and demanding the Lohri 'loot' in the form of money and eatables like til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak, rewri, etc. They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi avatar of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor, and once helped a miserable village girl out of her misery by getting her married off like his own sister.

In the evening, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle around (parikrama) the bonfire and throw puffed rice, popcorn and other munchies into the fire, shouting "Aadar aye dilather jaye" (May honor come and poverty vanish!), and sing popular folk songs. This is a sort of prayer to Agni, the fire god, to bless the land with abundance and prosperity. After the parikrama, people meet friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, and distribute prasad (offerings made to god). The prasad comprises five main items: til, gajak, jaggery, peanuts, and popcorn. Winter savories are served around the bonfire with the traditional dinner of makki-di-roti (multi-millet hand-rolled bread) and sarson-da-saag (cooked mustard herbs).

Bhangra dance by men begins after the offering to the bonfire. Dancing continues till late night with new groups joining in amid the beat of drums. Traditionally, women do not join Bhangra. They hold a separate bonfire in their courtyard orbiting it with the graceful gidda dance.


The day following Lohri is called 'Maghi', signifying the beginning of the month of Magh. According to Hindu beliefs, this is an auspicious day to take a holy dip in the river and give away charity. Sweet dishes (usually kheer) are prepared with sugar cane juice to mark the day.

Lohri is just a agricultural based festival, especially for the people of Punjab.{not Sikhs] Punjabis [hindus]are a fun-loving, sturdy, robust, energetic, enthusiastic and jovial race, and Lohri is symbolic of their love for celebrations and light-hearted flirtations and exhibition of exuberance.

Lohri celebrates fertility and the joy of life, and in the event of the birth of a male child or a marriage in the family, it assumes a larger significance wherein the host family arranges for a feast and merry-making with the traditional bhangra dance along with rhythm instruments, like the dhol and the gidda. The first Lohri of a new bride or a newborn baby is considered extremely important.


Nowadays, Lohri brings in an opportunity for people in the community to take a break from their busy schedule and get together to share each other's company. In other parts of India, Lohri almost coincides with the festivals of Pongal, Makar Sankranti, and Uttarayan all of which communicate the same message of oneness and celebrates the spirit of brotherhood, while thanking the Almighty for a bountiful life on earth.
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,206
Lohrri does not only roots in Punjab.It is known as ponggul and etc in other states.There is a small variation but end of the day it all measures up to agni pooja.
Chaan ji

If all you had written was the above, it would be more than enough for my eyes. It was very upsetting to see Lohri painted over as something acceptable in Sikhi on another website. I had to say something, but was ready to just give up. Yes Lohri is nothing more than agni pooja. You so far are the only one to have reacted not once but twice. I thank you. And for your words: "It is absolutely nonsense to compare with arti etc as these issues too have crept into teh faith and should not be there, but the dear babas have managed to hang on to it and continue to mislead the sikhs."
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

Writer
SPNer
Jan 29, 2011
1,496
2,166
Vancouver, Canada
For me it was a social gathering. You have reaped the crops. You have lot of husk left behind. You collect it at a central place in village. Burn it up and have food together, enjoying the warmth in harsh winters of Punjab. And ya sing a song or two!
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,206
So then you are celebrating as a Punjabi, not as a Sikh? That is the baffling aspect of this. But one thing I can get. As a Sikh living in Punjab, the gathering around a fire, telling stories and being together is one thing. Living as a Sikh in other parts of the world where the connection to agriculture is not an issue is imho something else. What is the relevance of building a bonfire as a kind of arti, and then making it seem OK because of pangatees in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji about the weather, the planets and the change of seasons somehow make it seem spiritual and therefore OK.

Halloween is a harvest festival in Christian countries dating back to pre-Christian times. Here we have many parallels. Children have parties, there are traditional sweets, and panhandling for treats. The symbols of witches and jack-o-lanterns remind one of ancient European rituals and nature deities. Why then is there a hue and a cry when Sikhs in England or Canada celebrate Halloween? ... there is you know. Perhaps the nature gods of Punjab are not as alarming as the nature gods of Britain or Germany. The recitation of pangatees from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji about the change of seasons at Halloween time would be greeted in horror.

No I stick by my original point. We cannot celebrate like this without reflection and also look the other way when SGPC plans to open an langar tent at Kumbh Mela, complete with an exhibition of Sikh history books. In the name of what?

Some of this I do suspect comes from the desire of converts to capture whatever they can of the Punjab side of Sikh identity. Missing of course the message that being a Sikh is not about being from any one part of the world, any one culture, any one language identity. Something very sad about this I feel.
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

Writer
SPNer
Jan 29, 2011
1,496
2,166
Vancouver, Canada
That's the point, as we grow up, we are fed in the 'corrupted' version of Sikhi itself. Our mind starts with a clean slate and it is filled with the lies of this life. Only when you read Gurbani, you realize the Truth. Like when there was no sun or earth, when was Lohri, when was Holi? The problem is still the same as it was in times of Nanak. We need the Shabad Guru to break out of the web.
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,206
Well thank you. Diwali is the next one coming up and then of course Holi. More opportunities for me to get stuck on what must seem like technicalities to a lot of people. I get stuck often. My weak mind is still wondering what Lohri could possibly mean to Sikhs in Kuwait, Brampton CA or Mexico City.
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Jul 4, 2004
7,688
14,345
71
KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA
For other Indians..its also a day to BURN all OLD STUFF...and the Chinese also beleive in throwing out all old stuff on New Years Day...and lots of SCAVENGERS look forward to this..as they can get lots of thrown out stuff thats still useful..saleable...
 

Chaan Pardesi

Writer
SPNer
Oct 5, 2008
428
770
London & Kuala Lumpur
spn ji, it is interesting how we have rattled the features of patit sikhs and other long haired "sikhs" over this pagan festival.It is really a festival that was perhaps in existence before hinduism.It could have been taken over by the hindus.But sikhi has absolutley nothing to do with it, but looks people only followed it in lip service as many of these still are clinging to it and get very very upset when they are told this is really a pagan led harvest festival...I see a lot of people upset when Malaya Khabarnama Facebook page has openly spoken against lohrri!
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,206
...It is really a festival that was perhaps in existence before hinduism.It could have been taken over by the hindus.


...I see a lot of people upset when Malaya Khabarnama Facebook page has openly spoken against lohrri!
This is exactly what got me started and led to the thread in the first place.

Yes, sacrifice to agni according to archeologists and scholars who study ancient inscriptions argue that Agni and a few other nature gods pre-date the Hindu period.

Yes, when someone challenges Lohri as a Sikh festival a lot of people get all charged up.

When you analyze Lohri, the one good thing about it is what Kanwaljit alluded to... a time to slow down and get together and have some relaxation with family and friends. But then a lot of things baffle me. For example, why over and over Ramgarhia are referred to as a "caste" when it is a misl, as are the Ahluwalia? Maybe I am not the one stuck on technicalities. When we get down to the bottom line, neither sacrifices to Agni nor caste identity have anything to do with Sikhi. I understand that one's culture is in our bones. But I am struggling for a way to say converts should know the cultural past of Punjab, but should not be trapped in it, and should give this up!
 
Last edited:

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਕੀ ਵਾਰ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ ਸਲੋਕ ਮ: ੫ ॥

Ramkli Ki Vaar Mehla 5. Ek Oangkar Satgur Parsad. Salok Mehla 5.


Vaars in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) primarily consists...

SPN on Facebook

...
Top