Celebrated on the 13th of January every year, Lohri is celebrated to mark the end of peak winter, this festival is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. The traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January, therefore, Lohri is seen by some to be a harvest festival. And thus, Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial New Year. The festival of Lohri, which is celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus all across India and is traditionally believed to welcome the sun to the northern hemisphere. Observed a night before Makar Sankranti, this occasion involves a Puja Parikrama around the bonfire with prasad.
The rituals related to Lohri symbolize the attachment of the people with Mother Nature.
You can choose to mark this occasion in any way you like.
I have been celebrating Lohri since a few years now, with friends who have shared their festivities with us. From simple celebrations at home with snacking on the traditonal peanuts, popcorn, seasame to lavish parties with all of us dressed up in Punjabi attire with our hair decked in Parandas and dancing around a bon fire.
As anyone who has ever celebrated the festival in full fervor around the bonfire would tell you–gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are threeedibles associated with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a tradition to eat Gajjak, Sarson da Saag and Makki Di Roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat ’til rice’–sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.
Going around the fire singing “Sunder mundriye ho!”, adding popcorn, sesame etc to the fire dancing in the winters is a celebration you have to experience ONCE in your life time. It brings Punjab right into your heart.
The folklore — Sunder Mundriye — is actually the tale of a man called Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Being quite the ‘Robin Hood’ back in the day, Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys of the village, and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye.
Read this book about the festival of Lohri to your kids.
Lohri holds extra significance when there’s a new marriage or new born in the family.
Simple ways to celebrate Lohri are –
Fly a Kite. Please don’t say you don’t know how to fly one! …
Enjoy snacks of peanuts, popcorn, chikki etc while sitting around a fireplace.
Dress up in parandas/colorful Indian attire.
Have Sarso Da Saag and Makki Di Roti.
Light up a bonfire.
Dance around the fireplace with your friends and family.
Read a book or watch videos about Punjabi folk tales/Lohri
You can see the fun of Lohri in this song from the movie Veer Zara. It wonderfully captures the essence of this festival. Colorful dresses, teasing between friends/family, food and dance is a big part of most Indian celebrations.
Have you heard of this festival before? Would you bring the warmth of Lohri into your home?
Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Holi, Navroz, Lohri, Onam, Pongal and the list can just go on. Festivals are a very important part of the Indian culture. If festivals are the heart of India, festive sweets are like their soul. Festive sweets are like food for the soul because they are not only irresistibly delectable but also have a ton of emotions and memories attached to them.
You can never get over your childhood favorite ‘sheer khurma’ made by Grandma on Eid. And the Diwali aura around the mithai/sweet shops at Chandni Chowk in Delhi. The aroma of ‘Christmas cake’ that fills the streets in December. And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’ during Holi.
And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’ during Holi.Taste and aroma are well-known to transport us back in time, to some of the best memories we have lived. In India, any happy occasion calls for sweets. Whether a baby is born, a marriage is fixed, a new job or promotion is acquired, or a cricket match is won, “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye!” is how most Indians bring in a celebration.
“Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” literally translates to “Let’s have something sweet!” but the translation doesn’t really do justice to the essence of this phrase.
Traditional Indian Sweets
Gujiya is a sweet deep-fried dumpling made with a stuffing of coconut or semolina and dried fruits. These are especially made during Diwali, Holi and Christmas.
Besan Ladoos are gram flour balls made with ghee, sugar and nuts. They are made for most festive and religious occasions. Ladoos are childrens’ all-time favorites.
Coconut Barfi is a dense sweet made of coconut, condensed milk, sugar and cardamom powder. They are very popular during Diwali and Christmas.
Kala Khand is a dense sweet made out of cottage cheese, solidified milk and sugar. They are widely consumed during festive and wedding occasions.
Cham Cham is a traditional Bengali sweet made with flour, sugar, lemon juice and coconut. They come in a variety of colors like light pink, light yellow or white. Cham Chams find their fans in most kids because of their colorful appearance.
Kaju Pista Rolls are cylindrical rolls made out of cashew and pistachio. They have the texture of play-dough and are green on the inside (pistachio dough) and white on the outside (cashew dough). Most Indian festivals are incomplete without these famous nutty rolls.
Gulab Jamun is the Indian version of doughnut balls. Deep fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, this sweet is indulged upon on any given happy occasion. Gulab Jamun is almost every Indians’ favorite dessert.
Sheer Khurma is a special vermicelli pudding, prepared on the festival of Eid by Muslim households. The main ingredients of this dish are vermicelli, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and dried fruits and nuts. No Eid celebration is ever complete without the family-favorite Sheer Khurma.
Shahi Tukda is a rich and decadent bread pudding made with fried bread slices, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron and dried fruits. Shahi Tukda is synonymous with wedding and festive celebrations, and is also a Ramadan and Eid staple.
Meethi Seviyaan or sweet vermicelli is made by combining vermicelli, sugar, ghee, cardamom and dried fruits. This simple dessert is a Ramadan and Eid favorite too.
Badam Kheer, also known as Phirni and Payasam is a simple rice pudding made with broken rice, milk, almonds, raisins and cardamom. It is a commonly made during Diwali, Ramadan, Eid, Pongal, Onam and other Indian festivals.
Rose Cookies or Achu Murukku are fried cookies shaped like rose petals. These crunchy cookies are lightly sweet and absolutely irresistible. They are very popular during Christmas.
Kalkals are bits of sweet fried dough, which are shaped as tiny curls or shells. Crunchy outside and chewy inside, these heavenly bites are a Christmas favorite.
MarzipanFruits are made with almond meal and sugar and come in various fruit shapes and colors. This traditional Christmas dessert is a favorite of kids and adults alike.
Fruit Cake is made with dried fruits like raisins, cherries, plums, currants or sultanas, soaked in fruit juice and then added to flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Christmas can never be complete without this cake, which is also famously known as Christmas Cake.
Every year as the Rakhi day (Rakshabandhan) approaches, I get wistful about tying a pretty little thread around my baby brother’s wrist. I think fondly of all those past celebrations of this Indian festival shared with my little brother.
This day holds a gentle place in the hearts of those who share it and the magic to take them flying through time to to their shared a childhood. A gesture or moment they may share or maybe pass as tradition to their own children.
When we were small (my brother 3, me 13), I would align our hands together and say,” See, how big my hand is than yours ?” He laughed as his eyes sparkled with glee.
Slowly but surely, his hand kept getting bigger. The joy he found in aligning our hands together and saying, “See, my hand is getting bigger.” became something we shared for an instant smile.
Years passed by, we separated, reunited and did it again. Now all grown up, my little brother boasted. “My hand is finally bigger than yours now.” he said proudly.
I grinned delighted.
Over the years, he grew up from being someone I led around to someone I lean on. He is my little brother. My first baby. The one whose name I take by mistake instead of my child’s often.
When we met the last time two years ago, we did it again. And then he did it to my son. “See, how much bigger my hand is than yours?” My son laughed.
And now my 6 year old does it to his 3 year old sister. Teaching her a silly practice that his mom and her brother did that connects them to this day.
[bctt tweet=”Rakhshabandhan literally translated means the The Tie That Protects. A festival of togetherness celebrating brothers and sisters.” username=”contactrwc”]
The origin of Rakhi or Rakshabandhan has various stories. From mythology to history, it goes back to powerful men and women who protected each other in dire times valiantly to honor the promise made when the thread was tied. This was a way to make sure women were respected, honored and protected at all times.
This festival that mainly constitutes a simple act of a sister tying a pretty thread on the wrist of her brothers’ wrist to celebrate their love and duty (loyalty, protection, care) towards each other. It’s heartening how over the years it has transcended into a one when people honor their relationship : the laughter, the memories, the mischief, the fights, the tears shared.
Today siblings and cousins tie it to each other, daughters to fathers, mothers to sons, friends to friends they consider siblings even. This day holds within it the promise of togetherness.
This festival thus inspires bravery and fondness among those who celebrate it. I remember when I was small we used to create our very own Rakhis and mail them from Kuwait to India to all our cousins. Today, with the very many options available online and shipping being so expensive online stores come to the rescue and we just pick our favorite designs and have them shipped to our beloved family members.
In our home, I tie it to my son and my daughter ties it to her father and brother. My husband’s sisters from India mail him their Rakhis and I decorate a Thali with flowers, sweets, diya and the Rakhis. On any occasion decorating these is my favorite thing to do.
We bathe and celebrate early morning. After prayer, the brother sits and the sister puts Tika on the forehead, does Aarti of the brother (circles the plate around the brother’s face) and then ties the Rakhi and feeds him the sweet. The brother then, irrespective of his age takes blessings of his sister for a long, prosperous and protected life!
Ideally, the brother gifts the sister whatever she wishes on this day. But as commercialization has crept in parents often gift both the brother and sister with presents to ensure they both feel celebrated! My kids love partaking in all the rituals and enjoy their gifts (read:toys) all day!
And then as any festival in India, there is a lavish meal of Indian delicacies. I usually make any meal celebrating the brother and sister with whatever dishes they most enjoy.
Happy Rakshabandhan to all those who choose to celebrate the sacred bond they share every single day in the little things they do for each other! Do share your silly stories of your siblings with us.
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No Diwali is complete without the beautiful Rangoli adorning your home. Be it in with powder, side walk chalk or playdough. Rangoli brings many colors together to form a very unique design. Similarly, people from around the world rejoice together every Diwali lighting up their homes, creating intricate designs, celebrating with delicious fare and paying homage to age old traditions passed on from generation to generation.
1. Dhanteras. 2. Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdasi. 3. Badi Diwali or Laxmi Puja. 4. Naya Saal or New Year. 5. Bhai Dooj.
Home made Diyas
People traditionally buy silver/gold/new utensils for the kitchen. Hang up the toran (door decor) and create the rangoli. Light Diyas outside your house. Choti Diwali and Badi Diwali are the actual Diwali days on which you pray for well being and prosperity of your family.
Badi Diwali is the last day of the Hindu calendar and thus specially auspicious. Naya Saal is when you wish all your near and dear ones a very Happy New Year as the new Hindu year begins. Bhai Dooj is a day for siblings to grow close as we cherish their love and pray for their well being.
The Varied Shades Of Diwali : Different Origins One Celebration
India is a land of many languages and sub cultures. Diwali, originally known as Deepavali is celebrated by Indians all over the world and for different reasons.
Every mythological story Diwali is derived from teaches that good will always triumph over evil.
In the Ramayan, when Lord Ram returned home, the city was lit up with diyas and the people rejoiced as the prodigal son returned home.
Lord Ram, the most beloved prince and son is sent to exile by his father because of a promise he made to one of his wives (granting any two wishes when she wants). Laxman, his devoted brother chooses to go on exile with his brother and sister in law Sita. After years of hardships, Sita one day sees a deer she desires and on her behest Sri Ram and Laxman go after it. She consequently gets kidnapped by Raavan when she crosses the Laxman rekha (a spellbound line made outside their home to keep her safe by her brother in law). Ram and Laxman slay Raavan, saving her with the help of Hanuman an ardent devotee of Sri Ram. They all come back home to Ayodhya (on Diwali) among great pomp and show only to send her into exile all on her own when a citizen of the city raises a question of her purity after living with Raavan for so many years. She goes into the forest where she brings up her two sons. After years, when his sons cross his path in battle, Lord Ram goes back to bring his wife home. She in turn chooses to go back to Mother Earth instead.
In South India, Lord Krishna slaying Narakasura. Narakasura was a demon drunk with power stole the earrings of Aditi (mother of all Devas) and kidnapped 16000 women. The Devas were unable to stop him and so they went to Lord Vishnu to reincarnate as Krishna, so as to destroy the evil demon and save the women.
Marwaris and Gujratis
Diwali is the new year time for Marwaris and Gujaratis. This is when the merchants close the accounts of the old year and pray to the goddess of wealth that the new year should open with even bigger increase of trade. Kali Chaudas is devoted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti as this is the day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Also referred to as Narak-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is the day to abolish laziness and evil. Thus, many regions pray to Goddess Laxmi (giver of weath) on this day.
To the Jains it marks the day after Lord Mahavira attained nirvana. He was released from his worldly body on the night of the full moon. So the people of Pavapuri, where he attained nirvana, lit lamps in their doorways as a symbol of their guru’s enlightenment.
This day for Sikhs celebrates the release of Guru Hargobindji along with 52 Indian kings who were imprisoned along with him at the Gwalior fort by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1619. This day is thus also known as Bandi Chorr Diwas (meaning the day of freedom).
Diwali is also celebrated in Nepal and the Indian states of Assam, Sikkim and Darjeeling in West Bengal. The five-day festival in these places is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crows, cows and dogs who maintain an intense relationship with humans.
So what is it that all these origin stories teach kids ?
Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two, living it up in Richmond Virginia in USA. Raised in Kuwait, being Indian by birth she has often felt out of place. A computer engineer by profession, she is now a freelance writer and entrepreneur having founded Raising World Children. In her spare time she volunteers for Circle of Peace International and impromptu dance parties with her little one are her ultimate picker upper. She provides tools to open minded parents to empower their children to raise positive, gracious, global thought leaders. She currently writes for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, RMB and is author in an upcoming Anthology 100+MomsOneJourney as well.
As soon as I hear the word Janmashtmi, my lips broaden, the pupil of my eyes narrow down.The thought of the festival reminds me of my lord, Lord Krishna and it seriously gives me immense pleasure to think about him!
Krishna, who is considered to be the most colorful God in Hindu mythology, is really the most favourd one too among the young as well as the adults.
Reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, Krishna has always appealed kids with his unique naughtiness.As kids, we always heard about him teasing his mother Yashoda or Gopis or stealing butter from the houses in the village. Simultaneously, we had also heard about his courage , respectfulness and humility.
All the qualities certainly make him a role model. Also because the existence of both negative as well as positive qualities make him more like us humans. This is something I only realize now as an adult.
I remember going to well lit, decorated temples with my parents on Janmashtmi during my childhood. In spite of huge rush that gathered to have a glimpse of lovely Kanhaiyya, he really looks different on that day, may be like a cute little kid, rejoicing on his birthday.
Those remembrances are now precious memories.
How We Celebrate
We also do puja (at my in laws) in our house. Since the birth of Krishna happens to be at midnight, people keep fast till that time. After their fast breaks, then only they have their meal. But at our place, we make delicious delicacies like Kuttu Pakori with curd, Coconut Burfi , Potato Chaat, Makhana Kheer, Curd and Charnamrit. My little ones relish Kuttu pakori and Potato chaat).Then after the puja and aarti (the poetic hymns), we have our meal comprising of the above mentioned dishes only.
After the puja, we visit the temples, like my parents, with my kids. Now, there are beautiful scenaries everywhere depicting unusual stories related to the birth of Lord Krishna.The kids remain excited and exuberant to see the Lord . My daughter wants to pull the thread of the swing in which Krishna sits.I have to pull her back many times but this is childhood. Isn’t it?The festival comes to an end after the visit, but the festive spirit never dies.We to look forward to celebrate next year with more fervor and different decorations.
Cant imagine how I am loving writing this piece about my dear Lord. Seem to write endlessly about Krishna, my diety.But I know the religious feeling can be cherished endlessly with the trust and faith in the Lord.
Jai Shree Krishna!!
Ruchika Rastogi, an Indian who was born and brought up in Delhi. She loves to explore the unexplored. A mother of two lovely kids, she works as a teacher and her passion for writing has helped her survive during her hard times. Her first non fiction book got published last year with the name-A Mystical Majesty-the woman. As a contributing author, her anthology with the title–Wait Till I Tell You got launched recently. With dreams in her eyes, she believes in living life optimistically.
Navratri, literally meaning “9 nights” is the beginning of the fall harvest, the change of seasons. When we align our system to Nature, we rest in balance. We feel energized, light in our body, and ease in our movements. We will spend the nine divine days of Navratri honoring the victory of positivism over negativity. The victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality of self and consciousness.
Whether in silence or active in the world, spend just a few moments to honor yourself and body during these precious nine nights.
We will detox by taking some disciplinary actions like juice detox, khichidi detox, on fruit diet, one day at a time. Traditionally, these days include chanting of divine mother (Eg; Lalita Sahastra namam, Kadgamala, Devi Kavacham, etc), and fasting.
Today I will share my celebration of Navratri, that include bringing the mind, body and spirit in tune.
Self Today is among the first three days of self-purification in which goddess Durga is worshiped in her terrifying, destructive and powerful aspect. We pray to the goddess to destroy our imperfections. We pray to make us pure.
Body See where you can make shifts in your lifestyle habits that allow for your system to rest. Small changes make bigger results. Eat lighter, increase fruits and vegetables, increase water intake, sleep earlier or reduce time in front of the computer or TV. Rest to your digestive, and nervous system, and even eyes can go a long way. Set an intention for these nine days.
Mind These nine day we will be practicing dissolve the discriminating ego, our judging intellect and our doubting mind into Divine Knowledge that makes us hollow and empty to come into awareness of Who Am I.
Self It is with the power of the above that we pray to destroy the negative tendencies of selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego we hold in our heart and mind.
Body Eating foods that suit our constitution and are gentle to our system along with movement/exercise help to keep the whole body in balance. Proper digestion, and elimination are an important indicator of overall health and well-being.
Mind Meditation, and journal writing are all effective ways of letting go of thoughts and emotions that do not serve us. Practice surrendering the events, thoughts and emotions to the divine which are not in your circle of influence, will help to see the shift in you.
Self We renew our commitment to acquire triumph over all of our negative tendencies.
Body What works for one does not always work for another. Tapping into the wisdom of our own body gives us the guidance to know what works for us. Take note of the foods you eat, and how it makes you feel: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take note of sleep habits and your daily energy levels. This simple understanding of our body allows us to function optimally; we feel light and energized.
Mind We attract prosperity and abundance and protect courageously the Inner Child to enjoy the journey in this body by dropping the cowardice and weakness.
Self The next three days, we move from self-purification to self- transformation. Our worship is now devoted to Goddess Lakshmi, the prosperity-bestowing form. Devotees pray for removing obstacles and bringing success in their paths.
Body By changing bad habits to good ones come from putting attention on what is already working for you than trying to fix what is not.
Mind Observe the transition of thoughts. Your thought and action affects your cosmos out there. The cosmos around you is what makes your world within you.
Self Goddess Lakshmi does not merely bestow material prosperity, but also grants qualities which we as spiritual seekers require, namely calmness, peace, equanimity, compassion, and love.
Body Today we take the opportunity to practice eating with awareness. So often we stuff food into our mouths while distracted, agitated or hurried. This diminishes the pleasure that food gives us and the nutrition it provides for the body. Take notice of the scent, texture, taste of your food while taking slow, gentle breaths. Place your fork down between bites. Eating with awareness is a form of love and compassion towards your body.
Mind Surrender to the universe that bursts open with Universal Inspiration to create newness with every breath.
Self Today is the third and final day which honors the Mother Divine as Lakshmi, the energy that manifests as the complete well-being of a person.
Body In our diets, the more we eat from natural, whole food sources, the less we require in overall food intake. In our lives, the more we engage in activities of service and truth, the less we require in life. Keep food and life simple. Continue with yoga/ Exercise.
Mind Observe the tendencies of mind clinging to the negativity, angry about the past and anxious about the future. Realize that you can drop them and can move forward.
Self We moved from self-purification to self-transformation and now we prepare ourselves to receive self-knowledge. Our prayer is devoted to Goddess Saraswati. She is the one who gives the essence (Saara) of the self (Swa), the one who gives the essence of self. She is the bestower of the true light of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Body Keeping a gentle awareness of our body gives us the understanding of what foods best suit us, how much sleep gives us adequate rest, how much exercise or movement provides energy, and those activities that uplift our spirit. Take this knowledge of yourself as a toolbox for well-being. This toolbox and all the knowledge in it is yours, and it’s the duty of self-knowledge to always be there for you.
Mind We surrender our doubting mind, judging intellect and Discriminating Ego to dissolve into recognizing and being whole and complete and balanced.
Self Today, we continue our worship for Goddess Saraswati. We first have to purify ourselves to get to the path of wisdom. Goddess Saraswati bestows the shakti (energy) to devotees so that they can attain knowledge.
Body Take a moment in the day or just before going to bed to check in with yourself of physical and mental/emotional symptoms as indicators of what is going on in the body and mind. Physical symptoms are bodily sensations– Imbalance: heaviness, sluggishness, weakness. Balance: energy, stamina, steady breathing. Mental/Emotional symptoms are feelings, thoughts– : tense, restless, agitated. Balance: calm, relaxed, focused
Mind In order to merge in to our pure self we release our weak self that attracts violence and abuse in any form.
Self Today is the final day which honors Goddess Saraswati. She is often depicted as being seated on a rock. Knowledge, like a rock, is steadfast support. She plays the veena, a musical instrument, which mellifluous notes bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration to ones’ life.
Body The nine days of Navratri gives us the opportunity to pause, reflect and reset our mind, body and self. With the help of the traditions, masters and powerful goddess energies, we set clear intentions, put forth attention and receive the biggest gift of all: knowledge of the Self. The simplicity of knowing the appropriate foods and exercise for our body and the correct practices for our mind brings assurance and the confidence that no other type of knowledge provides. With renewed energy and knowledge, we are able to move ahead.
Mind In these nine days we dissolved into the divine by dropping the discriminating ego, judging intellect that separates us from others and conquering the doubting monkey mind. Let’s pray to the DIVINE MOTHER to keep us on this practice though out.
The 9 days lead us to the celebration of Dussehra, the day of victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishaasur. For the spiritual seeker, misery in the mind is the true fight or conflict. We dedicate our life to spiritual practices, service, Satsang (being with likeminded people) and knowledge as the way to overcome this conflict. We become victorious and feel full in celebration of life.
Wanting, Doing and knowing of the self are all manifestations of the same energy that is YOU. At any given time one of these will dominate.
When the ‘Wanting’ dominates then we will be experiencing sorrow and sadness.
When ‘Doing’ dominates then we will experience the anxiety and attachment to results.
When ‘Knowing’ dominates we will experience the awareness and happiness.
Last but not least when our ‘Wanting’ and ‘Doing; are dedicated to the highest good of society and to serve humanity our consciousness automatically elevate and self-knowledge will day.
Durgamadhavi Mamidipalli is a certified yoga teacher, Marma therapist, Relationship and Spiritual coach. In 2013, Durga took the leap of faith and founded Be Free Now LLC by leaving her flourishing career in corporate to do what she loves doing the best healing and serving the World. Through her coaching and other modalities she is able to assist others in getting in touch with their innermost being and through a deeper knowing within themselves, eventually feel empowered. The awakening love and joy they experience within themselves will continue to grow through sharing.” You can connect with her at www.befreecoaching.com https://www.facebook.com/befreecoachingandhealing/