Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. Lohri is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. Lohri is a popular winter time Punjabi folk festival, celebrated primarily by Sikhs and . Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. Lohri marks the end of winter season, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere .It is observed the night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi.
An extremely auspicious day, Lohri marks the sun’s entry in to the ‘Makar Rashi’ . The period, from January 14 to July 14, is known as the Uttarayan.Lohri is the celebration of the arrival of longer days after the winter solstice. Hindus traditional lit bonfires in their yards after the weeks of the rabi season cropping work, socialized around the fire, sang and danced together as they marked the end of winter and the onset of longer days. After the night of bonfire celebrations, the Hindu would mark Makar Sankranti and go to a sacred water body such as a river or lake to bathe.
The day begins with children collecting Lohri, which is in the form of money or sweets. In the evening, winter savories are served around a bonfire. Celebrated enthusiastically, this festival marks the end of the chilling winter of the northern part of India.Children go from door to door singing songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor. These ‘visitors’ are given money and gazak, bhuga, til, moongphali, gur, and rewri. Munchies, collected from each house, go around the party and are also thrown into the fire.
The festival assumes greater significance if there has been a happy event in the family during the year gone by, like the birth of a male child or a marriage. The family then plays host to relatives and friends wherein the eats take a back seat and merry-making takes over. The celebration with the traditional bhangra dance along with the dhol, gidda and light-hearted flirtation mark this festival.
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki-ki-roti and sarson-ka-saag is essential. The prasad comprises of five main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, and phuliya or popcorn. The puja involves a parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni, the fire god, for blessing the land with abundant crops and prosperity. This is also the one day when the womenfolk and children get a lot of attention.