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Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire

Holi is spread out over two days. On the first day, bonfire is created and on the second day, holi is played with colors and water. In some places, it is played for five days, the fifth day is called Ranga Panchami. Holi bonfire is known as Holika Dahan also Kamudu pyre is celebrated by burning Holika, the devil. For many traditions in Hinduism, Holi celebrates the death of Holika in order to save Prahlad, and thus Holi gets its name. In olden days, people use to contribute a piece of wood or two for Holika bonfire.

Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire
Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire

Holika
Holika (होलिका) was a demoness in Hindu Vedic scriptures, who was burnt to death with help of God Vishnu. She was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu and aunt of Prahlad.
The story of Holika dahan (Holika’s death) signifies the triumph of good over evil. Holika is associated with the annual bonfire on the night before Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.

Hiranyakashipu and Pralhad
Hiranyakashipu and Pralhad

According to Bhagavat purana, there was a king named Hiranyakashipu who, like a lot of demons and Asuras, had the intense desire to be immortal. To fulfill this desire he performed the required Tapas (penance) until he was granted a boon by Brahma. Since the God’s do not usually grant the boon of immortality, he used his guile and cunning to get a boon which he thought made him immortal. The boon gave Hiranyakashyapu five special powers: he could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (weapons that are launched) nor by any shastra (weapons that are hand held), and neither on land nor in water or air. As this wish was granted, Hiranyakashyapu felt he was invincible, which made him arrogant. Hiranyakashyapu decreed that only he be worshiped as a God, punished and killed anyone who did not accept his orders. His son Prahlad disagreed with his father, and refused to worship his father as a god. He continued believing and worshipping Lord Vishnu.

Holika with Pralhad in bondife
Holika with Pralhad in bondife

This made Hiranyakashipu very angry and he made various attempts to kill Prahlad. During a particular attempt on Prahlad’s life, King Hiranyakashyapu called upon his sister Holika for help. Holika had a special cloak garment that prevented her from being harmed by fire. Hiranyakashyapu asked her to sit on a bonfire with Prahlad, by tricking the boy to sit on her lap. However, as the fire roared, the garment flew from Holika and covered Prahlad. Holika burnt to death, Prahlad came out unharmed.

Hiranyakashipu is said to be the brother of Hiranyaksha.  Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha are Vishnu’s gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya, born on earth as the result of a curse from the Four Kumaras

Hiranyaksha was killed by Lord Vishnu’s 3rd Incarnation which was Varaha. and Hiranyakashipu was later killed by Lord Vishnu’s 4th Incarnation which was Narasimha.

Tradition
The night before Holi pyres are burnt in North India, Nepal and parts of South India in keeping with this tradition. The youth playfully steal all sorts of things and put them in Holika pyre.

The festival has many purposes; most prominently, it celebrates the beginning of Spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. Holi festivities mark the beginning of new year to many Hindus, as well as a justification to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end conflicts and accumulated emotional impurities from past.

Prepare Holika pyre for bonfire
Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. Inside homes, people stock up on color pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional delicacies.

Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire
People walking in circle, praising the bonfire

Holika dahan
On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People sing and dance around the fire.
The next day people play Holi, the popular festival of colors.

Reason for Holika burning
The burning of Holika is the most common mythological explanation for the celebration of Holi. In different parts of India varying reasons are given for Holika’s death. Among those are:

  • Vishnu stepped in and hence Holika burnt.
  • Holika was given the power by the Brahma on the understanding that it can never be used to bring harm to anyone.
  • Holika was a good person and it was the clothes that she wore that gave her the power and knowing that what was happening was wrong, she gave them to Prahlad and hence died herself.
  • Holika wore a shawl that would protect her from fire. So when she was asked to sit in the fire with Prahlad she put on the shawl and sat Prahlad down in her lap. When the fire was lit Prahlad began praying to Lord Vishnu. So Lord Vishnu summoned a gust of wind to blow the shawl off of Holika and on to Prahlad, saving him from the flames of the bonfire and burning Holika to her death

The next day is known as Color holi or Dhulheti where people play with colors and water spraying pichkaris.
The next article will be on second day of Holi …

Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire
Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire

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Image credits to the owners of the images and the original photographers. Images are use for article purpose and are not owned by Hindu FAQs

hindufaqs.com-nara narayana - krishna arjuna - sarthi

Long long ago there lived an asura(demon) named Dambhodbhava. He wanted to become immortal and so prayed to the Sun god, Surya. Pleased with his penance, Surya appeared before him. Dambhodbhava asked Surya to make him immortal. But Surya couldnt  grant this boon since anything, anyone who was born on this planet will  have to die. Surya offered him to ask for something else instead of  immortality. Dambhodbhava thought of tricking the sun god and came up  with a cunning request.

He said that he has to be protected by a thousand armors and laid the following conditions:
1. The thousand armors can be broken only by someone who performs penance for a thousand years!
2. Whoever breaks the armor should die immediately!

Surya  was horribly worried. He knew that Dambhodbhava had performed a very  powerful penance and that he could get the entire boon he had asked for.  And Surya had a feeling that Dambhodbhava was not going to use his  powers for good. However having no choice in the matter, Surya granted  Dambhodbhava the boon. But deep down Surya was worried and seeked Lord  Vishnu’s help, Vishnu asked him not to worry and he would save earth by  eliminating adharma.

Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev | Hindu FAQs
Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev


Immediately after getting the boon from  Surya, Dambhodbhava started wrecking havoc on people. People were scared  of fighting with him. There was no way of defeating him. Anybody who  stood in his way was crushed by him. People started calling him  Sahasrakavacha [meaning one who has a thousand armours]. It was around  this time that King Daksha [the father of Sati, the first wife of Shiva]  got one of his daughters, Murti married to Dharma – one of the ‘Manas  putras’ of Lord Brahma, the God of Creation

Murti had also heard  of Sahasrakavacha and wanted to put an end to his menace. So she prayed  to Lord Vishnu to come and help the people. Lord Vishnu pleased with her  appeared before her and said
‘I am pleased with your devotion! I  will come and slay Sahasrakavacha! Because you have prayed to me, you  would be the reason for slaying Sahasrakavacha!’.

Murti gave  birth to not one child, but twins- Narayana and Nara. Narayana and Nara  grew up in the ashrama surrounded by the forests. They were great  devotees of Lord Shiva. The two brothers learnt the art of warfare.The  two brothers were inseparable. What one thought the other was always  able to finish. Both of them trusted each other implicitly and never  questioned the other.

As time went on, Sahasrakavacha started  attacking the forest areas surrounding Badrinath, where both Narayana  and Nara were staying. As Nara was meditating, Narayana went and  challenged Sahasrakavacha for a fight. Sahasrakavacha looked at the calm  eyes of Narayana and for the first time since he got his boon, felt  fear building inside him.

Sahasrakavacha faced the attack of  Narayana and was astounded. He found that Narayana was powerful and had  indeed got a lot of power from the penance of his brother. As the fight  went on, Sahasrakavacha realized that the penance of Nara was giving  Narayana strength. As Sahasrakavacha’s first armour broke he realized  that Nara and Narayana were for all purposes one. They were just two  persons having the same soul. But Sahasrakavacha was not too worried. He  had lost one of his armours. He watched in glee as Narayana dropped  dead, the minute one of his armours broke!

Nara and Narayana | Hindu FAQs
Nara and Narayana

As Narayana fell down  dead, Nara came running towards him. By his years of penance and  pleasing Lord Shiva, he had gained the Maha Mritunjaya mantra – a mantra  which brought back dead to life. Now Nara took the fighting with  Sahasrakavacha while Narayana meditated! After thousand years, Nara  broke another armor and dropped dead while Narayana came back and  revived him. This went on until 999 armors were down. Sahasrakavacha  realized that he could never beat the two brothers and ran away seeking  refuge with Surya. When Nara approached Surya to give him up, Surya did  not since he was protecting his devotee. Nara cursed Surya to be born as  a human for this act and Surya accepted the curse for this devotee.

All  this happened at the end of Treta yuga. Immediately after Surya refused  to part with Sahasrakavacha, the Treta Yuga ended and the Dwapar Yuga  started. To fulfil the promise to destroying Sahasrakavacha, Narayana  and Nara were reborn – this time as Krishna and Arjuna.

Due to  the curse, Dambhodbhava with Surya’s ansh within him was born as Karna,  the eldest son of Kunti! Karna was born with one of armours as a natural  protection, the last one left of Sahasrakavacha.
As Arjuna would  have died if Karna had had the armour, on Krishna’s advise, Indra  [Arjuna’s father] went in disguise and got the last armor of Karna, much  before the war began.
As Karna was actually the monster Dambodbhava  in his previous life, he led a very difficult life to pay for all the  sins committed by him in his past life. But Karna also had Surya, the  Sun God inside him, so Karna was a hero as well! It was Karna’s karma  from his previous life that he had to be with Duryodhana and take part  of the all the evil things he did. But the Surya in him made him brave,  strong, fearless and charitable. It brought him long lasting fame.

Thus after learning the truth about Karna’s previous birth, Pandavas apologised to Kunti and Krishna for lamenting them…

Credits:
Post Credits Bimal Chandra Sinha
Image Credits: To the owners, and Gogle Images

Who are the seven immortals of Hindu Mythology - hindufaqs.com

The seven Immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology are:

  1. Aswathama
  2. King Mahabali
  3. Veda Vyasa
  4. Hanuman
  5. Vibhishana
  6. Krupacharya
  7. Parashuram

Read the first part to know about the first two Immortals i.e. ‘Aswathama’ & ‘Mahabali’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 1

Read about the Third and forth Immortals i.e. ‘Veda Vyasa’ & ‘Hanuman’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 2

The seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology. Part 3

5.Vibhishana:
Vibhishana was the youngest son of Sage Vishrava, who was the son of Sage Pulatsya, one of the Heavenly Guardians. He (Vibhishana) was the younger brother of the Lord of Lanka, Ravana and King of Sleep, Kumbakarna. Even though he was born in the demon race, he was alert and pious and considered himself a Brahmin, since his father was intuitively such. Though a Rakshasa himself, Vibhishana was of a noble character and advised Ravana, who kidnapped and abducted Sita, to return her to her husband Rama in an orderly fashion and promptly. When his brother did not listen to his advice, Vibhishana joined Rama’s army. Later, when Rama defeated Ravana, Rama
crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka. In some period of history Sinhala people have considered Vibhishana as one of the Four Heavenly Kings (satara varam deviyo).

vibhishana | Hindu FAQs
vibhishana

Vibhishana had a sattvik (pure) mind and a sattvik heart. From his early childhood, he spent all his time meditating on the name of the Lord. Eventually, Brahma appeared and offered him any boon he wanted. Vibhishana, said that the only thing he wanted was to have his mind fixed at the feet of the Lord as pure as lotus leaves (charan kamal).
He prayed that he should be given the strength by which he would always be at the feet of the Lord, and that he would receive the darshan (holy sight) of Lord Vishnu. This prayer was fulfilled, and he was able to give up all his wealth and family, and join Rama, who was Avatar (God incarnate).

vibhishana joining Rama's Army | Hindu FAQs
vibhishana joining Rama’s Army

After defeat of Ravana, Vibhishana was declared as the King of Lanka [present day Sri Lanka] by Lord Rama and was said to have been given the blessing of a long life to take good care of his kingdom of Lanka. However, Vibhishana was not a Chiranjeevi in real sense. By which I mean that his lifetime was only as long as the end of one Kalpa. [which is still a pretty long long time.]

6) Krupacharya:
Kripa, also known as Kripacharya or Krupacharya is an important character in the Mahabharata. Kripa was an archer born to a sage and was a royal teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas before Drona (the father of Ashwatthama).

Shardwan, Kripa’s Biological father, was born with arrows, making clear he was a born archer. He meditated and attained the art of all types of warfare. He was such a great archer that no one could defeat him.
This created panic amongst the gods. Especially Indra, the King of the Gods, felt the most threatened. He then sent a beautiful Apsara (divine nymph) from the Heaven to distract the celibate saint. The nymph, called Janapadi, came to the saint and tried to seduce him in various ways.
Shardwan was distracted and the sight of such a beautiful woman made him lose control. As he was a great saint, he still managed to resist the temptation and controlled his desires. But his concentration was lost, and he dropped his bow and arrows. His semen fell on some weeds by the wayside, dividing the weeds into two – from which a boy and a girl were born. The saint himself left the hermitage and his bow and arrow and went to the forest for penance.
Coincidentally, King Shantanu, the great-grandfather of the Pandavas, was crossing from there and saw the children by the wayside. One look at them was enough for him to realize that they were the children of a great Brahmin archer. He named them Kripa and Kripi and decided to take them back with him to his palace.

kripacharya | HinduFAQs
kripacharya

When Shardwan came to know of these children he came to the palace, revealed their identity and performed the various rituals which are performed for the children of Brahmins. He also taught the children archery, Vedas and other Shashtras and the secrets of the Universe. The children grew up to become experts in the art of warfare. The boy Kripa, who came to be known as Kripacharya, was now assigned the task of teaching the young princes all about warfare. On growing up Kripa was the chief priest at the court of Hastinapura. His twin sister Kripi married Drona, the weapons master to the court – who, like her and her brother, had not been gestated in a womb, but outside the human body.

He fought from the Kauravas during the war of Mahabharata and was one of the few surviving characters of post-war period. He later trained Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna and son of Abhimanyu in the art of warfare. He was known for his impartiality and loyalty for his Kingdom. Lord Krishna granted him immortality.

Photo Credits: To the owners, Google Images

12 common characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata

Jayadratha was the son of Vridhakshtra, king of Sindhu (present day Pakistan) and was the brother in law of the Kaurava prince, Duryodhana. He had married Dushshala, the only daughter of Dhritarastra and Gandhari.
One day when the Pandavas were in their vanavaas, the brothers went into the forest to collect fruits,wood, roots etc. Seeing Draupadi alone and enamored by her beauty, Jayadratha approached her and proposed to marry her even after coming to know that she was the wife of the Pandavas. When she refused to comply, he took the hasty decision of abducting her and started moving towards Sindhu. The Pandavas in the meantime learnt of this ghastly act and came in for Draupadi’s rescue. Bhima thrashes down Jayadratha but Draupadi prevents Bhima from killing him as she doesn’t want Dushshala to become a widow. Instead she requests that his head be shaved and he be set free so that he doesn’t dare ever commit an act of transgression against another woman.


To avenge his humiliation, Jayadratha conducts severe penance in order to please Lord Shiva, who granted him a boon in the form of a garland which will hold all the Pandavas at bay for one day. While this was not the boon that Jayadratha wanted, he accepted it nevertheless. Not satisfied, he went and prayed to his father Vridhakshtra who blesses him that whoever causes the head of Jayadratha to fall on the ground will be immediately killed by having his own head burst into a hundred pieces.

With these boons, Jayadratha was an able ally to the Kauravas when the Kurukshetra war began. Using the powers of his first boon, he managed to keep all the Pandavas at bay, except for Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna who were battling Trigartas elsewhere on the battlefield. On this day, Jayadratha waited for Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu to enter the Chakravyuha and then blocked the exit knowing fully well that the young warrior did not know how to exit the formation. He also prevented mighty Bhima along with his other brothers from entering the Chakravyuha for Abhimanyu’s rescue. After being brutally and treacherously killed by the Kauravas, Jayadratha then goes on to kick the dead body of Abhimanyu and rejoices by dancing around it.

When Arjuna returns to the camp that evening and hears of his son’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, he becomes unconcious. Even Krishna could not check his tears, hearing about the death of his favourite Nephew. After gaining conciousness Arjuna vows to kill Jayadratha the very next day before sunset, failing which he would kill himself by entering into blazing fire along with his Gandiva. Hearing of this vow of Arjuna, Dronacharya arranges a complicated battle formation the next day to achieve two objectives, one was to protect Jayadratha and two was to enable Arjuna’s death which so far none of the Kaurava warriors had even gotten close to achieving in normal battle.

The next day, despite a full day of fierce fighting when Arjuna is unable to get to Jaydratha, Krishna realizes that he would need to resort to unconventional tactics to achieve this objective. Using his divine powers, Krishna masks the sun thus creating a solar eclipse in order to create the illusion of sunset. The entire Kaurava army rejoiced at the fact that they had managed to keep Jayadratha safe from Arjuna and also at the fact that Arjuna now would be forced to kill himself to follow his vow.

Elated, Jayadratha also appears in front of Arjuna and laughs at his defeat and starts dancing around joyously. At this moment, Krishna unmasks the sun and sun appears in the sky. Krishna points Jayadratha to Arjuna and reminds him of his vow. In order to prevent his head from falling to the ground, Krishna asks Arjuna to shoot cascading arrows in a sustained manner so that Jayadratha’s head is carried over from the battlefield in Kurukshetra and travels all over to the Himalyas such that it falls on the lap of his father Vridhakshtra who was meditating there.

Disturbed by the head falling on his lap, Jayadratha’s father gets up, the head drops to the ground and immediately Vridhakshtra’s head bursts into a hundred pieces thus fulfilling the boon that he had given his son years ago.

Also Read:

The Complete Story Of Jayadratha (जयद्रथ) The King Of Sindhu Kingdom

Credits:
Image Credits: to the original Artist
Post Credits: Varun Hrishikesh Sharma