The entire country will celebrate the Lohri festival on 13th January 2021. But not many know the significance of the Lohri festival and the legend of Punjab’s Robin Hood, Dulla Bhatti.
Lohri is primarily celebrated by the Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other northern states. It marks the end of the winter solstice and the harvest of the rabi crops as well. Lohri is followed by the Makar Sankranti festival which is celebrated on January 14th.
The Legend of Punjab’s Robin Hood, Dulla Bhatti:
The origin of the Lohri festival could be traced back to the 1500s and the tale of Dulla Bhatti.
Dulla Bhatti is a central character of many songs sung during the Lohri festival. Popularly known as “Punjab’s Robin Hood”, Dulla Bhatti was a robber with a golden heart akin to Robin Hood who robbed the rich and served the downtrodden.
Dulla Bhatti was born in a Punjabi Family near Faisalabad. Belonging to a warrior clan, Dulla refused Mughal emperor Akbar’s legitimacy. For 20 years, Dulla along with his clan put up strong resistance and forced Akbar to shift his capital to Lahore.
Over the course of his life, Dulla was known for robbing the rich and helping the poor. He also rescued several Hindu women that used to be sold in the slave market. After rescuing these women, Dulla used to arrange marriages of these women. Later, he suffered the wrath of the Muslim invaders and was executed.
In memory of his bravery and strength, women sang songs based on him and danced around the bonfire. This later became a tradition of Punjab and to this day Dulla is celebrated every year on a day we now know as Lohri.
Now that we know the history of Lohri, let’s take a look at how the day is celebrated. All the celebrations in Lohri revolve around bonfires. Children, men, and women gather around bonfires, socialize, make merry and add warmth on cold January nights. In villages that have harvested fields, farmers light bonfires and the entire community gathers around it. It is a celebration of life, fertility and love where people sing and dance around the bonfire, throw puffed rice, popcorn and peanuts into the bonfire flame.
Group dances make the evening of Lohri extra special. Coming from a Punjabi legacy, men and women do traditional dances like Bhangra, Gidda, Kikli that is full of rhythm and energy.