What is Lohri? It is an Indian festival of fire in which fire is worshipped. It is usually celebrated to commemorate the birth of a male child alone. It is not celebrated on the birth of a girl as she is not considered important. Thus, it cannot be a Sikh festival as it discriminates. Also, Sikhs do not worship fire. Unfortunately, many misguided people do worship fire or Lohri because of its strong links to Punjabi culture. The birth of a daughter or son is equally joyous for Sikhs. The practise of giving sweets and celebrating Lohri only on the birth of a boy alone is a taboo for Sikhs and is entirely contrary to the Sikh way of life. The Guru Granth Sahib Jee, the final Guru body of the Sikhs clearly states on Ang 605, "In all beings is He (Wahe Guru) himself pervasive, Himself pervades all forms Male and Female."
- Guru Arjan, Ang 405, SGGS -- Naam, the name of God is above all religious rituals, good deeds, or worship.
- Guru Nanak, Ang 3, SGGS -- Those who are faithful do not follow empty religious rituals.
- Guru Nanak, Ang 75, SGGS -- Pilgrimages, fasts, rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship are all in vain. Salvation is achieved only by devoting worship to God.
- Guru Arjan, Ang 297, SGGS -- Those who engage in empty rituals will never be free of the cycle of reincarnation.
- Guru Nanak, Ang 1332, SGGS -- Many engaging in ceremonial rituals and mislead others. This lack of true understanding distants one from God and brings about suffering and pain.
Lohri favors the male off spring and clearly discriminates against females. Hence it contributes to male preference and also to the already rising incidences of female infanticide. Punjab has earned the dubious distinction of "Kuri Maaran Da Desh" (a state of girl child killers). "Infanticide has been practiced as a brutal method of family planning in societies where boy children are still valued, economically and socially, above girls."
Traditions can be healthy and give us a sense of stability and belonging in our communities and society. On the other hand, unhealthy traditions and rituals such as Rakhee, Lohri, Kurva Chauth, dowry etc... while may be acceptable to some cultures, they are not in concert with the Sikh way of life. Those traditions that glorify male gender preference or encourage female neglect and perpetuate the view of a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter as a liability are not in keeping with the Sikh teachings. The Sikh Gurus encouraged women to be independent and share social and religious responsibilities rather than be subservient, docile or dependent.