Lohri is essentially a festival dedicated to fire and the sun god. It is an extremely popular festival celebrated by the Punjabi's and Haryanvi's. This agricultural winter festival is celebrated throughout Punjab and in parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu. Many people believe the festival began as a celebration of the eve of the winter solstice. With time, the festival spread to the states adjoining Punjab - Sindh, Jammu, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. Lohri is also a festival of harvest which sets the mood for rabi (Spring) harvest. It marks the beginning of a new month, Magh, which is celebrated in many fashions in different parts of the country. It also marks the waning of winter season.
The whole of Punjab gears up to celebrate the Lohri festival. It is one of the most joyful occasions for every Punjabi, especially so for those families where there has been a recent marriage or the birth of a child.
The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legend of Dulla Bhatti, who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued poor Punjabi girls, being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East from the Sandal Bar region. He arranged their marriages to boys and provided them with dowries. Amongst them were two girls Sundri & Mundri (married in 1614) who gradually became theme of Punjab' folklore.
The event, in all possibilty, took place during the time of harvest celebration when Lohri is observed and hence, the incident got associated to the festival. The song that Dulla sang at the weddings is still sung during Lohri and the bonfire serves as a throwback to the sacred fire lit during the aforesaid marriage ceremony.
Even to this day, the people of Punjab remember this brave warrior with a heart of gold. On the morning of the Lohri day, young children team up to visit every house in the locality and sing songs that commend Dulla and his giving of the Lohri gift to his daughter as a suggestion to the owner of the house to give them presents in the same way. Normally, the young gangs are given small amounts of money to buy treats, sweets like gajak or rewri or eatables such as popcorn, , til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, crystal sugar or gur (jaggery). If the gifts please them, they sing.
Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka ho!
Kudi da saalu paata ho!
Salu kaun samete!
Chacha gali dese!
Chache choori kutti!
Bum Bum bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari itt!
Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pitt!
Sanoo de de Lohri, te teri jeeve Jodi!
Beautiful girl Who will think about you?
Dulla of the Bhatti clan will! Dulla's daughter got married
He gave one ser of sugar! The girl is wearing a red suit!
But her shawl is torn! Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori! The landlords looted it!
Landlords are beaten up! Lots of simple-headed boys came!
One simpleton got left behind! The soldier arrested him!
The soldier hit him with a brick! (Cry or howl)!
Give us Lohri, long live you pair (to a married couple)!
Whether you cry, or bang your head later!