Why Celebrate Lohri?

How to celebrate lohriGrowing up in Canada, my understanding of Lohri was very limited. The two things I knew were; people host Lohri parties when they have a boy, and you always cook saag and eat gur & rewri on Lohri. By the time I made it into my teens, people had started breaking the norm and having Lohri parties for their little girls too. Which was amazing from an equality perspective, but I later learned still didn’t celebrate the essence of Lohri as a harvest festival. 

After my kids were born and we started to research and learn more about Punjabi festivals I was surprised to learn that my parents had never told me about Lohri’s connection to the end of winter, the harvest, and most importantly Punjabi farmers. I went to my mom with all my questions and it was like we got into a time machine and went back to mom’s childhood. She started telling me about how sugar canes were harvested before Lohri, and how gur was made. She remembered collecting ‘dane’ (dried corn kernels) from neighbourhood houses and boiling or popping them to celebrate the corn harvest.

The conversation with my mom made me realize that Lohri is truly the most Punjabi festival there is. It’s not a religious celebration but a cultural one. Farmers celebrate their harvest, the end of the cold winter, and look forward to new beginnings. The new beginnings part is what I think led to the celebration of baby boys and newly married couples. They were seen as seeds of sorts, planted now and harvested later.

(I don’t love that somewhere along the way Lohri became associated only with parties for baby boys, but I choose not to focus on that in my family, and my kids have know idea about that. We are working on changing the narrative in our family.)

roasting lohri marshmallows{roasting marshmallows over fire is something we love to do for Lohri at our place!}

So here are the reasons why my family celebrates Lohri:

It’s a truly Punjabi festival. It celebrates the songs, culture, dance, and food of our homeland.

Both my husband and my families have a history of farming in Punjab. I remember hearing stories from both my grandparents and my dad’s great-uncle about our history as farmers and that’s something I want to hold on to.

Lohri and our connection to farming gives me an opportunity to talk my kids about their food and where it comes from. When they were really little I would always have them plant something on Lohri that I knew was going to sprout in a few days, like peas. It made the conversation about food coming from soil not boxes so much more tangible.

It gives me an excuse to learn more traditional Punjabi dishes to bring to our Lohri table.

 

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This year we have all sorts of new Lohri content planned for the blog, and of course there are many posts in the archives. In particular, if you are thinking about adding Lohri celebrations to your family’s traditions, this post on simple celebration ideas is a good one to check out. And finally, if you want to see what my family is getting up to this week, then make sure you are following along on Instagram!

 

 

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