Traditional Lohri sweets like peanut jaggery bars, crunchy sugary squares coated with sesame seeds, groundnuts, popcorns and carrot sweetmeats remain the hot favourites of all during the festival.
Lohri is also celebrated with much enthusiasm and cheer in colleges and schools. Special functions are organized where children dance and sing decked in their colourful dresses. Sweets are also distributed among them.
Punjab being an agrarian state, the festival signifies a sort of rest period for the farming community after harvesting rice crop and sowing wheat crop. Lohri augurs good omens for all. It ushers in a period of bonhomie and camaraderie in society. It brings a change in the weather and gives respite from biting cold. It fills everybody with cheer and hope and decimates cynicism at the altar of mighty fire. It provides an excuse to rejoice and make merry. The pent up negativities are driven away in the gay abandon of Bhangra and Giddha.
I recall the way my parents used to celebrate it year after year with us pitching in with firewood and cow dung cakes (our gardener’d bring some) and sit around the fire and my mom insisting that all of us throw a palmful of rice, sesame seeds and jaggery in the fire while singing a couplet-udam aye dalidar jaye, dalidar the jar chule paye- let you be blessed with the ability to initiate good deeds and let sloth be destroyed in the fire. This ritual made me feel so good. I followed this practice to make my children aware of our festive traditions. After they flew away from the nest I somehow stopped. However, I make it a point of buying Lohri sweets and prepare a special dish to savour it the next day which is the holiest day of Makar Sankranti, the first day of the month of Magh according to Vikrami samvat (calendar).