Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13th day of January in the Hindu month of Paush or Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti. In the North Makar Sankrant is called Lohri. Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of the winters begins to taper off.
The cultural history of this festival centers about a Rajput tribe called Bhatti, during the reign of Akbar in the inhabited parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat. Raja of Pindi Bhattian, Dulla Bhatti, was sentenced to death by the Mughal king for revolting against him.
Dulla Bhatti was a Punjabi version of Robin Hood, who used to rob the rich and help the poor. He was loved and respected by the tribal people. It is also said that he once rescued a girl from the kidnappers, after which he adopted her as his daughter. This hero is remembered every year on this festival.
The day begins with children collecting money from houses in the neighborhood. Children go from door to door singing songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti. These visitors are given either money or gajak, til bhuga, moong phali, gur and rewri. The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire.
The traditional dinner with 'Makki ki Roti' and 'Sarson ka Saag' is quintessential. In the evening, a bonfire is lit up, winter savories are served around the bonfire and everyone gathers around it. Munchies, collected from each house, are thrown into the fire and exchange greetings.
Though Lohri is celebrated in the northern part of India, the festival is marked by celebrations in other parts of the country under different names like Pongal in southern part of country, Sankrant in central India and Bihu in Assam.