The festival of colours, bhang, and endless gujiyas and meetha is back! Holi is one of the most loved festivals in the country and for good reason. But just a day before Holi is Holika Dahan, a day to mark the victory of good over evil. But what is Holika Dahan and what does it have to do with Holi? Read on to find out.
Who is Holika?
According to Hindu scriptures, demon king Hiranyakashyap was the ruler of the kingdom of earth. He was invincible as he was blessed with powers by Brahma and no one could harm him. These powers meant that he could not die by any entity created by Brahma, he could not die at daytime or night, he could not be killed in the sky or the underworld, he could not be killed by any human or animal, nor by any weapon or ammunition. Soon, he began to think of himself as divine and wanted everyone to worship him. But his own son Prahlad would not worship him as a deity and worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. This enraged him and he tried to kill Prahlad many times, but the boy was always saved by Lord Vishnu.
Finally, after several attempts, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister Holika for help to kill Prahlad. He asked Holika to sit on a burning pyre with Prahlad on her lap as Holika could not be harmed by fire. So, Prahlad’s aunt lured him to sit on her lap in the fire. But she turned into ashes because Holika was unaware that the boon worked only if she entered the fire alone, so Prahlad walked out unscathed. He kept chanting the name of Lord Narayana and the lord saved him for his devotion and made Holika pay for her sins.
What is Holika Dahan?
Holika Dahan is the event of Holika burning in the same fire she set to kill Prahlad. Every year, one night before Holi, people burn pyres and enact the burning of Holika. Effigies are burnt all across the country to mark the victory of good over evil and to invite blessings into the devotees’ homes. The next day, a joyous celebration with colours takes place.
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