LOHRI in India marks the offset of winter and the start of the spring season. It is also famously known as the festival of harvest. The major wheat, rabi and other crops also become ripe during this period and are ready to be processed for further use.
Such similar festivals are celebrated in other parts of India and worldwide countries as well.
The festival of Yule
Yule is a festival observed by Northern Europeans, Neopagans and Unitarian Universalists. It is observed during Christmas celebrations whereby a log is burnt to commemorate the winter solstice.
It was ancient custom that when sacrifice was to be made, all farmers were to come to the heathen temple and bring along with them the food they needed while the feast lasted. At this feast all were to take part of the drinking of ale. Also all kinds of livestock were killed in connection with it, horses also; and all the blood from them was called hlaut. These were fashioned like sprinklers, and with them were to be smeared all over with blood the pedestals of the idols and also the walls of the temple within and without; and likewise the men present were to be sprinkled with blood. But the meat of the animals was to be boiled and served as food at the banquet. Fires were to be lighted in the middle of the temple floor, and kettles hung over them. The sacrificial beaker was to be borne around the fire, and he who made the feast and was chieftain, was to bless the beaker as well as all the sacrificial meat.
The festival of Hogmanay
It is celebrated on New Year’s Day and is mostly observed by the people of the United States. The fire festival of Stonehaven in Scotland is the direct descendant of lighting winter solstice bonfires. Another event is observed every 11 January when the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round in Burghead and is wedged on the Doorie Hill. When it is burnt out, people take the smouldering embers to bring good luck for the coming year.
Maghi in Punjab
Maghi is one of the major festivals for the Sikhs. It is celebrated at Muktsar in the memory of forty Sikh martyrs (Chalis Mukte), who once had deserted the tenth and last human Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib, but later rejoined the Guru and died while fighting the Mughal Empire army led by Wazir Khan in 1705. Sikhs make a pilgrimage to the site of this Sikh-Muslim war, and take a dip in the sacred water tanks of Muktsar. It is usually celebrated by eating Kheer where rice is cooked in sugarcane juice. It is served with red chilly mixed curd. Khichi with lentils and Jaggery are also eaten. Fairs also seem to be the major attraction during this period.
There may be many other such festivals which are similar to Lohri and must be celebrated with a lot of pomp and show around the world. We would love it if you can share with us some similar festivals you know.