By Shivani Kakhandki, Cora Health
India’s true essence lies in its diversity which glorifies through the festivals that Indians celebrate with great pomp and joy. One of the first festivals that Indians celebrate right after New Year’s Eve is the Lohri festival! This festival is also known as the “Winter Solstice” which marks the dawn of the chilly winters and the beginning of bright summers.
Lohri is synonymous with enjoying folk songs and dancing to them along with friends and family by doing the Gidda and Bhangra around the ritualistic bonfire. In general, Lohri is considered to be this festival of harvest which is also celebrated in other parts of India with different names such as Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Uttarayan, etc. And of course, no festival in India marks its significance without some aromatic flavors lingering in the air — Lohri too has its share of traditional heartwarming delicacies.
The Importance Of Traditional And Seasonal Foods Of Lohri
It amazes us to understand how every Indian festival and the traditional food treats associated with it have certain meanings and significance in terms of health and nutrition. Think Lohri and a collage of images of foods like peanuts, jaggery, popcorn, gajjak, etc. pop in our heads, isn’t it? Have you ever wondered why we eat these specifically during the Lohri festival? If you observe carefully most of the treats prepared during Lohri are crunchy and we need to munch and chew on them a little extra — now by doing this dear readers, we end up driving away the much-despised lethargy of winters. Eating these treats will help you feel energetic enough to get out of those layers of blankets that you hide under and have a fruitful and active day. Let us take you through some of the seasonal and traditional foods of Lohri and help you understand the nutrition quotient behind them.
This sweet snack made of peanuts and gur (jaggery) adorns the “popular snack” hat amongst all age groups! You love it, your mom loves it, and so does your grandma! The very taste of this Lohri special winter snack is divine. The most popular chikkis come from tourist places like Lonavala and Khandala. The two main ingredients of this sweet snack, the peanuts and jaggery boast of great health benefits. Have a look.
Benefits Of Peanuts
- They are rich sources of manganese, folate, and essential amino acids.
- These nuts are known to help regulate blood sugar levels, metabolize carbohydrates and fats, and also helps our body to absorb calcium better which promotes healthy joints.
- The nutrients present in peanuts also helps in reducing bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels. This reduces the risk of any heart condition.
- These nuts are really good for your brain as they contain vitamin B3 and niacin that boosts your memory power.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like to munch on hard treats like chikkis, then try Peanut Butter, it provides you with the same nutrients.
Benefits Of Jaggery
- It is a rich source of iron and also contains certain anti-allergenic properties.
- It regulates digestion and the internal temperature of the body.
- It can prevent several problems like joint pains, menstrual problems, acne, etc.
- It also helps in cleansing the blood.
Now, if you’re looking at a healthier sweet substitute than jaggery to go with your everyday diet and not just during festivals, opting for honey is a good idea as it comes with exceptional medicinal properties.
Til Ke Laddoo
It is a tradition to exchange til laddoos during the Lohri festival. While exchanging people greet each other by saying — “til-gul ghya, god god bola” which translates to “accept these til laddoos and speak sweet.” To forget all the past bitterness and hostilities and to begin new innings is the underlying thought here. The super ingredient of this dish is sesame seeds.
Benefits Of Sesame Seeds
- These super seeds are rich in iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. These are the nutrients that are required to promote good immunity, the health of our bones, fight free radicals, and reduce stress.
- Eating sesame seeds is also known to slow down the process of aging and reduce any chances of osteoporosis.
- It is said that sesame seeds can keep many types of cancer at bay.
- It is also very rich in antioxidants and contains an anti-inflammatory compound called sesamol.
These days there are so many products that include sesame as their main ingredients. Right from traditional food products like sesame chutney powder to a much more modern food product like sesame bagel, we recommend that you say “yes” to sesame throughout the year and enjoy its health benefits.
We have our popular name for this — popcorn! On Lohri day, along with black sesame seeds, jaggery, and peanuts, even popcorn is fed to the fire as part of the harvest ritual. And unlike the popcorn that we usually enjoy while watching a movie in the nearest theatre, the popcorn eaten during Lohri is free from any sort of added flavor and butter. This makes it a healthy winter treat. Popcorn too has quite a lot of nutritional benefits for us.
Benefits Of Popcorn
- On its own, popcorn is an excellent source of fiber and has extremely low calorific value.
- This makes for an ideal whole grains snack that is rich with antioxidants called polyphenols.
- This helps in protecting the human body against chronic health conditions like cancer, heart ailments, and other types of diseases that are caused by free radicals.
The knowledge and intentions behind celebrating every festival along with its delicacies in India are so unique. So, this Lohri don’t just sit warming yourself around the bonfire. Dance to the beat of the dhol and indulge in these super healthy Lohri treats and make their super ingredient a part of your healthy lifestyle as well. Happy Lohri everybody!