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Lohri is a Punjabi folk festival celebrated mainly in Punjab regions in both Pakistan and Northern India. It may be celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims, many of whom use the festival to mark the winter solstice. Lohri is celebrated the night before Maghi or Makar Sankrati as part of the transfer from one year to another. The date can vary and is linked to Vikrami calendar but it often falls on 13 January.

Lohri is celebrated around the Himalayan regions, which can be much colder than the rest of the subcontinent, and therefore involves celebrating warmth. It’s usually celebrated with everyone in the family, all wearing bright clothes. It’s also linked to the winter crop season, so food plays a big part. There’s plenty of singing and dancing, with several of the songs telling stories around folklore.

Lohri is normally celebrated with family, and children of the families would traditionally visit homes in their neighbourhood, singing, dancing and asking for treats such as sweet or savoury food, or money during the daytime. The collection gathered by the children is known as the Lohri and is distributed throughout the neighbourhood when the children return in the evening.

A bonfire is lit at sunset, and small amounts of food may be thrown into it to represent the passing of the old year and the approach of the new year. It can be celebrated either in the family home or in the community, however there are always songs, dances, prayers and food.

Bonfire art

You could create a bonfire picture together, with sesame seeds, peanuts or popcorn thrown in. (Remember to check for any food allergies or intolerances first)

You’ll need:

  • Black piece of paper
  • Red, orange, yellow and white paint (non-toxic)
  • Plates (hand-size or bigger)
  • Water and / or wipes
  • Coloured tissue paper and / or leaves
  • Twigs and / or pipe cleaners
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds

Glue and / or sticky tape

  1. Decide which way up you want your paper (to create either a tall or a wide bonfire).
  2. Stick your pipe cleaners or twigs to the bottom of paper in the centre to symbolise logs.
  3. Pour your paint into a plate and then place a hand in it, covering the palm, thumb, and fingers.
  4. Create a palm print on the paper, with the bottom of your palm on the twigs and your thumb and fingers spread and stretching upwards. You could try a hand under hand approach for any children who dislike getting their hands messy or sticky.
  5. Wash or wipe your hand and repeat the above steps with different colours, as many times as you like.
  6. Before the paint dries, sprinkle sesame seeds onto the paint to give it some texture. You can also glue on pieces of tissue paper or leaves for extra texture as well as peanuts to really add to the sensory appeal.
  7. Wait until it dries, then explore how it looks and feels!

Coloured clothes and dance

Find your most colourful clothes and put them on - the brighter the colours the better!

Many types of dance have different moves for males and females that complement each other. Have fun trying to learn either of these dances:

There are lots of moves, so you could just try to learn a few to begin with. Grownups can dance with you too!

Gathering treats

This could be a great time to talk about the yearly cycle and where our food comes from as well as spending some time doing activities together:

  1. Get everyone dressed up in the brightest most colourful clothes they have.
  2. Give each adult a different type of food and ask them to stay in a certain place around the house – possibly as a hide and seek game too!
  3. Encourage the children to go around the house performing different types of song and dance to ask for donations of the treats that the adults have, which they put into a bucket.
  4. After an adult has been found, they go to an agreed room. When all of the adults have been found, the children and adults come together in that agreed room and everyone shares the treats.

We would love parents and carers to share their thoughts and feedback on these activities via our Parents and Carers Facebook Group. Let us know your family's favourite traditions and how you celebrate!

If you would like to see a particular celebration included here, email us.