India's northern states celebrate Lohri, one night before Makar Sankranti as an arrival of longer days as the sun proceeds on its northward journey after the winter solstice. Most considers the festival date fixed on January 13, but there are people who say it is now delayed one day, and thus would be celebrated on January 14. Makar Sankranti is going to be celebrated on January 15, 2023. Lohri is believed to have the shortest day and the longest night. It marks the end of winter, thus, people celebrate the transition from colder to warmer days. Farmers celebrate it as a ‘harvest festival' with great pomp and enthusiasm.
Lohri comes from ‘Tilohri’ i.e. Til means sesame and Lohri means jaggery. Gur or the jaggery helps in cleansing the body and giving the energy needed for the new year. People celebrate Lohri by lighting bonfires, enjoying delicious food, and dancing to the tune of traditional folk songs. Couples walking around a bonfire signifies Lord Agni (God of Fire), believed to bring prosperity into lives, around the flames while singing the Lohri song. They think bonfires are lit to bid adieu to colder days and welcome warmer days, there is more to it. Furthermore, make offerings in the fire to burn all the negativity and seek peace and prosperity.
The festival holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Punjab who do ‘Bhangra’ and ‘Gidda’ and enjoy traditional Punjabi delicacies served at the Lohri celebrations. Dishes ranging from Chikki, Til Laddoo, Gur Ki Roti, Sarson Ka Saag, and Makki Ki Roti are prepared and served in the evening. Several traditional songs are sung at this festival to pay gratitude to ‘Dulla Bhatti’ a folk legend. He lived in Punjab during the Mughal rule and was a messiah for the people. He used to rescue slaved females and get them married off. He is believed to have led a revolt during Emperor Akbar’s reign.