I have taught and known many, many people from the Punjab, and visited them and eaten with them and attended weddings and other celebrations, but I never heard any mention of a festival called Lohri.
Apparently it may commemorate the end of the winter solstice – or maybe it was to make the beginning of the solstice when t was the shortest day and longest night. The reason for the difference in dates seems to be it was linked with another festival but whenever it is celebrated – no doubt at different dates in different areas, one of the exciting parts of the fun is bonfires! Just as in Britain we have a November date when we light bonfires – which has become November 5th, Guy Fawkes night, but in reality going back much further in traditional history. I’ve read that children go round ‘rick or treating’ at this time too – which is a link with Halloween which is a similar time of year to Guy Fawkes night.
In Asia, the seasons are very different from our temperate climes and Lohri is traditionally associated with the harvest and the start of a new season of planting and growing. Indian traditional calendars are older and very different from our European calendars, but as far as I can gather, Lohri falls on January 13th.
As with foods associated with both Halloween and Guy Fawkes night, there are popular and traditional foods eaten at Lohri including mooli and peanuts. An exciting and popular activity is kite-flying – I guess the children love that!!