Lohri is the pagan winter solstice festival of the Punjab region where people thank Mother Nature and celebrate the end of long nights and the harvest of crops such as peanuts.
The connection with newly weds and new babies is to do with the time of year, signifying the end of long nights and the beginning of longer days with more daylight. So essentially people celebrate this as a Punjabi new year by rejoicing in all things new (including sons and daughters).
Earth, fire, wind, water and spirit are celebrated (not worshipped) on this day, as we recognise them as energies of Nature, each of which is essential for human life. So we owe a lot to these elements as they create us and our newborns.
But isn't Vaisakhi the Punjabi New Year?
Traditionally Punjabi’s celebrate a few new year’s, (why should people be limited to just one per year?)
Lohri – The beginning of longer days
Vaisakhi – The beginning of the new harvest year
Divali – The end of the harvest season and prayers to Lakshmi Devi (Goddess of money) for wealth during the season of lower yields.
These have anything to do with individual religions. These have all existed in the Punjab region for thousands of years and truly belong to the indigenous people of that region. Religions all over the world have always merged their traditions with the celebrations of the local people and cultures and Sikh festivals are also aligned to pre-dating cultural celebrations.
What does Sikhi say?
Sikhi holds no value in auspicious or holy days and sees every day as an opportunity to worship and surrender to the permanent divine Oneness. Lohri marks the end of the cold winter month of POH. Gurbani says:
ਪੋਖਿ ਤੁਖਾਰੁ ਨ ਵਿਆਪਈ ਕੰਠਿ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੁ ॥
In the month of Poh, the cold does not touch those, whom the Husband Lord hugs close in His Embrace.
ਮਨੁ ਬੇਧਿਆ ਚਰਨਾਰਬਿੰਦ ਦਰਸਨਿ ਲਗੜਾ ਸਾਹੁ ॥
Their minds are transfixed by His Lotus Feet. They are attached to the Blessed Vision of the Lord's Darshan.
And rather than burning offerings into a fire and praying for a prosperous and bountiful new year, the Guru says that a Gurmukh gets everything they need when the Oneness is revealed to them:
ਰੁਤਿ ਸਿਸੀਅਰ ਸੀਤਲ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੇ ਮੰਘਰ ਪੋਹਿ ਜੀਉ ॥
In the cold season of Maghar and Poh, the Lord reveals Himself.
ਜਲਨਿ ਬੁਝੀ ਦਰਸੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਬਿਨਸੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹ ਜੀਉ ॥
My burning desires were quenched, when I obtained the Blessed Vision of His Darshan; the fraudulent illusion of Maya is gone.
ਸਭਿ ਕਾਮ ਪੂਰੇ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਜੂਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਸੇਵਕਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ॥
All my desires have been fulfilled, meeting the Lord face-to-face; I am His servant, I serve at His feet.