With the approach of spring, people find themselves enchanted by the fragrance and bright colours of the flowers. Holika or Holi is celebrated as a festival representing the victory of good over evil. This festival commemorates the combined celebration of two different festivals – Choti Holi (Holika Dahan) and Badi Holi (Rangwali Holi/Dulandi)
History of Holika Dahan
Holy scriptures such as Narad Purana and Vishnu Purana are full of interesting stories about the festival of victory. A well-known demon king named Hiranyakashipu had a son, Prahlad, who became a great and faithful devotee of Lord Vishnu. King Hiranyakashipu couldn’t not tolerate his son’s devotion towards Vishnu, and called his demon sister Holika to kill Prahlad. Holika had a divine gift that fire could not burn her, so she suggested that she would sit with Prahlad in a fire. Because of her boon and the magical clothing she’d adorn, the fire would not do anything to her, but it would burn Prahlad. However, when it was time and Prahlad was made to sit on Holika’s lap, he began to utter Vishnu’s name, and chant, “Om Namo Narayanay”.
The pyre was set on fire but owing to Vishnu’s grace and love for his young devotee, the fire burned the demon Holika while her magical clothing saved Prahlad from the fire. As stated in the verse of Bhagwad Gita (9.31):
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati.
Translation: “He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes”.
Holika died in that fire and this instance was taken as a sign of the triumph and victory of good over evil.
Importance and significance of Holika Dahan
Holika Dahan signifies that evil cannot exist for a long and eventually it is good that will triumph. The Lord loves his devotees and protects them as Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, is omnipresent and omnipotent. According to our sacred scriptures as we can refer to it from a verse in Srimad Bhagwatam (7.8.17)
satyaṁ vidhātuṁ nija-bhṛtya-bhāṣitaṁ
vyāptiṁ ca bhūteṣv akhileṣu cātmanaḥ
stambhe sabhāyāṁ na mṛgaṁ na mānuṣam
Translation: “To prove that the statement of His servant Prahlada Maharaja was substantial — in other words, to prove that the Supreme Lord is present everywhere, even within the pillar of an assembly hall — the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, exhibited a wonderful form never before seen. The form was neither that of a man nor that of a lion. Thus, the Lord appeared in His wonderful form in the assembly hall”.
Spiritual Science behind Holika Dahan
In times of yore, when Holika Dahan was celebrated, all nutritious things such as peanuts, sesame seeds, dry coconut, wheat and grams, sugar, etc., were placed into the fire with cow dung cake. It would clear the atmospheric vibrations of negative energies. Later, the leftover ash, which is very fertile for the land, was used as organic manure.
Puja Samagri for Holika Dahan
* Turmeric roots and dry coconut (these have antibiotic properties and create a healthy environment)
* Unbroken rice (creates determination in worshipers)
* Cow dung cakes (purify the environment from negative energies)
* Flowers (cheers the heart and refreshes the mood)
* Fresh harvested crops of wheat and gram (symbolic representation of Spring)
* Gulal, or colour (happiness is shared with everyone when applied on face)
* Cow’s milk ghee, cotton wicks and earthen/metal lamp (for offering prayers)
* Fruits (as prasad and offerings)
* Gangajal (for charnamrita and purification)
Choti Holi Puja and Vidhi
On this day, people pursue mantra siddhi (perfection) because this day is one of the best of Siddha Muhurats for such works. For laymen, Holika Dahan itself is the main ritual that is celebrated.
* The devotee must take bath, put on clean clothes and prepare some prasad for an offering.
* People should gather around the major crossroads and establish a pole to support the pyre to be lit. Woods and cow dung cakes are arranged.
* During the evening, devotees would gather around the pyre and light it.
* They should dance around the burning Holika, reciting songs and chantings mantras like the Raksoghna Mantra from Rig Veda. All the samagri is put into the fire one by one, chanting “swaha” after every mantra.
* When the pyre cools a little, devotees must take the ashes/vibhuti to their home and/or put it as tilak on everybody’s head.
Shastric Puja Vidhi
Sri Kalash Sthapana, Holika Devi Pujan, Sri Prahalad Pujan, Sri Narshimha Pujan, Avahan, Swasthivachan, Sodashopchar Puja, Holika Prajawalan, Purnahuti, Homa and Visarjan are performed.
Holika Dahan Timing
This year, Holika Dahan will be celebrated on March 1. Timings for the Holika Dahan will be from 6 pm to 8: 30 pm after the Bhadra period is gone.
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