Lohri 2024: 5 Festive Thali Dishes And Their Significance

The first festival of the year is almost here and with it, North India is gearing up for a large celebration. Observed a day prior to Makar Sankranti, this festival marks the onset of the rabi crop season and the conclusion of the winter solstice. Following Lohri, the intense cold recedes, indicating the arrival of longer days. The traditional bonfire is believed to bring good fortune, ushering in the new season without the harsh cold and symbolically dispelling the negativity of the preceding season. This year, Lohri will be celebrated on Monday 15th January 2024.

Since Lohri is essentially a harvest festival, food plays a large role in the day's traditions. Lohri cuisine is modest, not extravagant. It embodies simplicity and a connection to tradition and is centred around the seasonal produce of the Punjabi winter. It celebrates fundamental, filling elements without the need for extravagance. Lohri serves as a reminder of one's roots, land, and culture.

The bonfire also plays a role in the celebration. The origin of the term Lohri indicates a combination of two words - "til," signifying sesame seeds, and "rohori," representing jaggery or gur, resulting in the contemporary term Tilhori or Lohri. This festival signifies the conclusion of the winter solstice, and the act of adding food to the bonfire is considered a gesture of gratitude towards nature.

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The Lohri Thali

Strictly speaking, there is no official Lohri thali but the term has come to be used colloquially for all the traditional foods eaten on the festival. Lohri is all about eating for wellness, using the seasonal foods of winter and indulging in dishes that are hearty and nourishing

Sarson Ka Saag And Makki Roti

There is a tradition of consuming Sarson ka Saag the day after Lohri. This custom is reflected in a well-known Punjabi saying, "Poh Riddhi, Magh Khaddi," implying that, according to the Punjabi calendar, saag should be prepared in the month of Poh and eaten the following day in the month of Magh.

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Til Laddoo

Sesame seeds feature in a number of Lohri dishes, both sweet and savoury. It’s a nutritious winter seed, but it also has a mythological connection to the day. In Hindu mythology, it is believed that the god Yama bestowed blessings upon sesame seeds, elevating them as symbols of immortality. According to the myth, these seeds are said to have originated when drops of sweat fell from Vishnu and touched the earth.


Aside from being the foundation of the famed Makki Ki Roti, popped corn is another popular fireside snack for Lohri. Aside from being one of the primary grains, its versatility lends itself to many dishes and represents a bountiful harvest. Other dishes like khichdi which combine simple staples like rice and dal are also popular meals on the day. 

Gud Ka Gajak

Jaggery is another staple part of the winter menu and is cherished for its cleansing properties as well as for being a quick source of energy. It was thought that sweets like gajak and rewri which are packed with jaggery and sesame provided the perfect boost of energy for farmers who needed to go out to harvest.


Panjiri is enjoyed during the winter month of Lohri due to its nutritious components such as nuts, seeds, and spices like cardamom and cinnamon, which help in maintaining body warmth. Essentially, Panjiri is a blend of various nuts, seeds, multigrain flour, jaggery, gondh (edible gum), and ghee. These ingredients are abundant in calcium, healthy fats like omega-3, vitamin E, iron, and magnesium, providing relief from body aches while promoting relaxation in muscles and joints

These are just a few of the most important elements of Lohri food traditions and every part of the country celebrates this harvest festival a little differently. The key part to remember is that it’s an ode to local produce and the best flavours of the season.