New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) Bonfires, drumbeats and revellers singing and dancing to folk songs -- that was the sight in many residential areas in Delhi, as people gathered around crackling fires Sunday evening to celebrate the harvest festival of Lohri.
Traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crop, people celebrated Lohri with feasting, exchange of gifts, and songs and dance around bonfires.
Sesame seeds, jaggery, peanuts and popcorn are tossed into the fire and celebrations continue till the fire dies out.
The festival is particularly special for newly-weds, and for new-borns who have never seen such festivities before.
"It is my daughter's first Lohri. All our relatives have joined us for the celebrations, and more importantly, to bless the child," said 30-year-old businessman Sanket Bhatia.
According to Bhatia, the maternal grandparents of the baby got gifts, sweets, dry fruits, peanuts and popcorn on the occasion.
Though largely celebrated as a harvest festival, for some Lohri is an occasion to seek the blessings of Agni Devta (fire god).
"I prepared prasad on the occasion comprising til (sesame), jaggery and peanuts. Once the bonfire was lit, milk and water was poured around it to thank Agni Devta and seek blessings," said 52-year-old Savita Manchanda.
"A part of the prasad, after being offered to the fire, was distributed," she said.
Manchanda said her newly-wed son and his bride performed all the rituals to seek the blessings of Agni Devta.
For 55-year-old Surmeet Chahal, Lohri is a time to bond with friends and family.
"Everyone is busy these days, but Lohri brings us together in the warmth of the bonfire in chilly winter. At this time, the company of friends and family is priceless," he said.
Besides Lohri, a host of other harvest festivals are also celebrated across the country: Uttarayan in Gujarat, Magh Bihu in Assam and Pongal and Makar Sankranti in south India.