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Holi Dahan, Holi Bonfire

What is Holika Dahan?

Holi is a colourful festival that celebrates passion, laughter, and happiness. The festival, which takes place every year in the Hindu month of Phalguna, heralds the arrival of spring. Holi Dahan is the day preceding Holi. On this day, people in their neighbourhood light a bonfire and sing and dance around it. Holika Dahan is more than just a festival in the Hindu religion; it symbolises the victory of good over evil. Here’s what you need to hear about this critical case.

Holika Dahan is a Hindu festival that takes place on the Purnima Tithi (Full Moon Night) of the Phalguna month, which typically falls in March or April.

Holika was a demon and the granddaughter of King Hiranyakashipu, as well as Prahlad’s aunt. The pyre is lit the night before Holi, symbolising Holika Dahan. People gather around the fire to sing and dance. The next day, people celebrate Holi, the colourful holiday. You might be wondering why a demon is worshipped during the festival. Holika is thought to have been created to fend off all fears. She was a sign of strength, riches, and prosperity, and she had the ability to bestow these blessings on her devotees. As a result, before Holika Dahan, Holika is worshipped alongside Prahlada.

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

Story of Holika Dahan

According to the Bhagavat Purana, Hiranyakashipu was a king who, in order to fulfil his wish, performed the requisite Tapas (penance) before Brahma granted him a boon.

Hiranyakashyapu received five special abilities as a result of the boon: he could not be killed by a human or an animal, could not be killed indoors or outdoors, could not be killed at any time of day or night, could not be killed by astra (launched weapons) or shastra (handheld weapons), and could not be killed on land, sea, or air.

As a result of his wish being granted, he believed he was invincible, which made him arrogant. He was so egotistical that he ordered his entire empire to worship him alone. Anyone who disobeyed his orders was punished and killed. His son Prahlad, on the other hand, disagreed with his father and refused to worship him as a deity. He continued to worship and believe in Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu was enraged, and he attempted to kill his son Prahlad several times, but Lord Vishnu always intervened and saved him. Finally, he sought assistance from his sister, Holika.

Holika had been given a blessing that made her fireproof, but she was burned to death because the boon only worked if she joined the fire alone.

Holika with Pralhad in holi bonfire
Holika with Pralhad in holi bonfire

Prahlad, who kept chanting Lord Narayana’s name, emerged unscathed, as the Lord rewarded him for his unwavering devotion. Lord Vishnu’s fourth Incarnation, Narasimha, destroyed Hiranyakashipu, the demon king.

As a result, Holi gets its name from Holika, and people still reenact the scene of ‘Holika’s burning to ashes’ every year to commemorate good triumphing over evil. According to legend, no one, no matter how strong, can harm a true devotee. Those who torment a true believer in God will be reduced to ashes.

Why is Holika Worshipped?

The Holika Dahan is an important part of the Holi festival. People lit a massive bonfire known as Holika Dahan the night before Holi to celebrate the burning of the Demoness Holika, Demon King Hiranyakashyap’s niece.

It is believed that performing Holika puja on Holi bestows strength, prosperity, and wealth in Hindu religion. Holika Puja on Holi will help you overcome all kinds of fears. Since it is believed that Holika was made to ward off all kinds of terror, she is worshipped alongside Prahlada before Holika Dahan, despite the fact that she is a Demon.

Significance and Legend of Holika Dahan.

The legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashipu is at the heart of Holika Dahan celebrations. Hiranyakashipu was a demon king who saw Lord Vishnu as his mortal enemy because the latter had taken the Varaha avatar to destroy Hiranyaksha, his elder brother.

Hiranyakashipu then persuaded Lord Brahma to grant him the boon that he will not be killed by any Deva, human or animal, or by any creature that takes birth, at any time of day or night, by any hand-held weapon or projectile weapon, or within or outside. The demon king began to believe that he was God after Lord Brahma granted these boons, and demanded that his people only praise him. However, his own son, Prahlad, disobeyed the king’s orders because he was devoted to LordnVishnu. As a result, Hiranyakashipu devised a number of schemes to assassinate his son.

One of the most popular schemes was Hiranyakashipu’s request that his niece, the demon Holika, sit in a pyre with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had been blessed with the ability to escape injury in the event of a burn. When she sat with Prahlad in her lap, Prahlad continued to chant the name of Lord Vishnu, and Holika was consumed by the fire while Prahlad was rescued. Based on the evidences from some legends, Lord Brahma bestowed the blessing on Holika with the expectation that she would not use it for evil. This storey is retold in Holika Dahan.

 How is Holika Dahan celebrated?

People light a bonfire on Holika Dahan, the night before Holi, to represent the pyre used to destroy Prahlad. Several cow dung toys are held on this fire, with cow dung figurines of Holika and Prahlad at the end. Then, as a recreation of Prahlad being rescued from the fire due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu, the figurine of Prahlad is easily removed from the fire. It commemorates the victory of good over evil and teaches people about the importance of sincere devotion.

People also throw samagri, which includes products with antibiotic properties or other cleaning properties that can help keep the environment safe, into the pyre.

Performing Rituals on Holi Dahan (Holi Bonfire)

Holika Deepak, or Chhoti Holi, is another name for Holika Dahan. On this day, after sunset, people light a bonfire, chant mantras, sing traditional folklore, and form a circle around the holy bonfire. They put the woods in a spot that is free of debris and is surrounded by straw.

They place roli, unbroken rice grains or akshat, flowers, raw cotton thread, turmeric bits, unbroken moong daal, batasha (sugar or gur candy), coconut, and gulal where the woods are stacked before lighting the fire. The mantra is chanted, and the bonfire is lit. Five times around the bonfire, people pray for their health and happiness. On this day, people perform a variety of other rituals in order to bring wealth into their homes.

Things to do on Holi Dahan:

  • Place a ghee diya in the northern direction/corner of your home and light it. It is thought that by doing so, the house would be blessed with peace and prosperity.
  • Turmeric mixed with sesame oil is also applied to the body. They wait a while before scraping it and tossing it into the Holika bonfire.
  • Dried coconut, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, 5 or 11 dried cow dung cakes, sugar, and whole wheat grains are also traditionally offered to the sacred fire.
  • During the Parikrama, people also give water to the Holika and pray for the family’s well-being.

Things to avoid on Holi Dahan:

This day is associated with a number of beliefs. Here are a few examples:

  • Avoid accepting water or food from strangers.
  • In the evening of Holika Dahan or when performing the puja, keep your hair tired.
  • On this day, do not lend money or any of your personal belongings to anyone.
  • When performing Holika Dahan Puja, avoid wearing yellow-colored clothing.

The Important of Holi Festival to the Farmers

This festival is very much important to the farmers because the time to harvest new crops as the weather transitions as come. Holi is known as the “spring harvest festival” in certain parts of the world. Farmers rejoice because they have already restocked their farms with new crops in preparation for Holi. As a result, this is their relaxation period, which they enjoy when surrounded by colours and desserts.

 How to Prepare Holika pyre (How to prepare Holi Bonfire)

People who worshipped the bonfire began collecting wood and combustible materials for the bonfire some days before the festival began in notable areas like the parks, community centres, near temples, and other open spaces. An effigy of Holika, who lured Prahalad into the flames, stands atop the pyre. Color pigments, food, party drinks, and festive seasonal foods such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas, and other regional delicacies are stocked within homes.

Also Read: https://www.hindufaqs.com/holi-dhulheti-the-festival-of-colours/

Throwing colour on the crowd

Holi ( होली) is a spring festival also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.
As discussed in previous article (Significance of bonfire for Holi and Story of Holika) , 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.
Playing Colurs on holi The second day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated. Children and youth spray coloured powder solutions (Gulal) at each other, laugh and celebrate, while elders tend to smear dry coloured powder (Abir) on each other’s face. Visitors to homes are first teased with colours, then served with Holi delicacies, desserts and drinks. After playing with colours, and cleaning up, people bathe, put on clean clothes, visit friends and family.

Like Holika Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India. The festival of colours in these parts is called Rangapanchami, and occurs on fifth day after Poornima (full moon).

It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of Hindus or people of Indian origin. The festival has, in recent times, spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.

Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw colours on each other, laugh and chit-chat, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some drinks are intoxicating. For example, Bhang, an intoxicating ingredient made from cannabis leaves, is mixed into drinks and sweets and consumed by many. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up, visit friends and family.

Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.

Kids Playing Colurs on holi
Kids Playing Colurs on holi

Holi frolic and celebrations begin the morning after Holika bonfire. There is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and youth groups form armed with dry colours, coloured solution, means to fill and spray others with coloured solution (pichkaris), balloons that can hold coloured water, and other creative means to colour their targets.

Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as turmeric, neem, dhak, kumkum were used; but water-based commercial pigments are increasingly used. All colours are used. Everyone in open areas such as streets and parks are game. Inside homes or at doorways though, only dry powder is used to smear each other’s face. People throw colours, and get their targets completely coloured up. It is like a water fight, but where the water is coloured. People take delight in spraying coloured water on each other. By late morning, everyone looks like a canvas of colours. This is why Holi is given the name “Festival of Colours.”

colours in Holi
colours in Holi

Groups sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. After each stop of fun and play with colours, people offer gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other traditional delicacies.Chilled drinks, including adult drinks based on local intoxicating herbs, is also part of the Holi festivity.

In Braj region around Mathura, in north India, the festivities may last more than week. The rituals go beyond playing with colours, and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks.

In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the love god of Indian mythology, on Holi.

Throwing colour on the crowd
Playing Colour on Holi

After a day of play with colours, people clean up, wash and bathe, sober and dress up in the evening and greet friends and relatives by visiting them and exchange sweets. Holi is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in the society.

Credits:
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

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

Credits:
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