The people of Punjab mark the occasion of Lohri on January 13, a night before Makar Sankranti. The North Indian traditional winter folk festival is known as the farmers' harvest festival, but the eve holds more significance.
Soul Of Lohri
People build a bonfire, dance, offer jaggery and grains to the fire, and, of course, as a way of singing tales of their folk hero, Rai Abdullah Khan Bhatti, fondly remembered as Dulla Bhatti.
Young children visit door to door, sing songs to praise Bhatti and get sweets or little goodies as presents. The occasion is a way of celebrating his valour, rebellion, and armed struggle against the Mughal Empire and saving girls from the atrocities of sexual predators.
It is believed that Bhatti was born the same day as Mughal Emperor Akbar's eldest son, Salim, Scroll.in reports. At the time, the prophets had persuaded Akbar of letting Salim be nourished by a Rajput woman who had given birth the same day as his wife. The prophets had said this was the way forward to successfully run the empire and make Salim worthy of the throne.
The empire identified Ladhi, Dulla Bhatti's mother, as that woman; she raised Bhatti and Salim in the same household. Reportedly, Bhatti's grandfather and father were captured and executed days before he was born. They had stood against the empire and opposed the taxation system introduced by Akbar.
Many historians suspect that this was a political move of the empire to win over the rebellious chieftain family of Pindi Bhattian.
Bhatti became aware of his father and grandfather's death after he confronted his mother in his young years. This was the beginning of the legendary rebellion of Dulla Bhatti against Akbar.
Folk Hero's Saga
It is believed that Bhatti had rescued two Brahmin girls, Sundri and Mundri, from Akbar's clutches, who wanted them in his harem. He became their godfather and had reportedly married the duo on January 13. He is celebrated as the symbol of unity and love in Punjab and is remembered by all the religious communities.
His chronicles are enriched in Punjab folklore and poetry, one of the famous being, 'Sundari Mundari':