Lohri is a festival connected with the solar year. Lohri is an extremely popular festival in Punjab. Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti.
In Punjab, the breadbasket of India, wheat is the main winter crop, which is sown in October and harvested in March or April. In January, the fields come up with the promise of a golden harvest, and farmers celebrate Lohri during this rest period before the cutting and gathering of crops.
This is particularly a happy occasion for the couples who for the first time celebrated Lohri after their marriage and also the first Lohri of the son born in a family. The wood crackles and burns, the fire blazes high, a circle of warmth on a cold winter's night. Lohri is essentially a festival dedicated to the Sun god. Lohri is a joyous time to eat gur and peanuts, singing songs and share the warmth with your family and loved ones.
A week before Lohri, children begin gathering firewood, hunting for logs that will burn well. A spirit of good-natured rivalry binds the community together and everyone takes pride in making the biggest and most grand bonfire in their neighborhood. Lohri is an important festival which brings the entire community together, each family contributing sweets made of til and gur, peanuts, tilchowli and many other delicious home-made delicacies.
According to legend, a good Lohri sets the tone for the whole year ahead - the more joyous and bountiful the occasion, the greater will be the peace and prosperity. Some people believed that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former vanished into the fire, Lohri survived and lives on.
The rituals and celebrations associated with Makara Sankaranti and Lohri are only symbolic of a common thanksgiving to nature as represented by the Sun god, and in the process, the festivities embody a spirit of brotherhood, unity and gratitude, with family reunions and merrymaking generating a lot of happiness, goodwill and cheer.