Holika Dahan is performed by burning Holika, a demon in the Hindu Vedic scriptures as a tradition following the celebration of Holi. It is celebrated to proclaim the win of good over the evilness of Holika of killing Prahlad (her nephew).
Woods and fire burnt on the eve of Holi, i.e. Holika Dahan signifies the burning of Holika. It is like a proof of the win of goodness and pureness over the evil, that Prahlad never lost his faith and went on to live.
Why Holika Dahan?
On the eve of Holi, i.e., Holika Dahan, after sunset, the bonfire is lit up, symbolizing Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolizes the victory of good over evil. People do parikrama (going around in a circle), sing and dance around the fire in happiness and relief.
Holika Dahan is a way of marks the overcoming of goodness over the enemies and evilness, it also celebrates the death of Holika and bhakt Prahlad getting saved and so the name of the festival Holi.
According to the ancient history and Hindu Puranas, below is a small explanation for the burning of Holika and also for the fact that why Holi is celebrated:
Holika had a shielding shawl that would save her from burning to ashes so when she took Prahlad and sat down on the bonfire in the hopes of getting both of them burnt alive, she failed. As when the fire was lit, Prahlad started praying to Lord Vishnu to help him from not dying and getting saved, then Lord Vishnu brought a breeze of wind that blew the shawl off of Holika and rested well onto Prahlad, in return saving him and letting the evil Holika burn to death.
And since then the people have been lighting pyre or bonfire known as the Holika. The women pray for the well-being, peace, calm as well as prosperity for their family, a happy home filled with children. It is also when the farming fields are in full flourishing and farmers also pray for a good and healthy harvest.
Activities and Traditions that are performed following Holika Dahan:
- Gujia, a type of sweet dish is made filled with nuts and everything sweet and shared with neighbors and people.
- Thandai is prepared by mixing badam with milk and sometimes adding bhang to it for a different taste and flavor.
- People play with colors like Gulal and other colors. Nowadays, they even use natural colors made out of Haldi, neem, rose flower, etc. for yellow, green and red color respectively.
What goes in the Holika Dahan Pujan?
When bonfire is set to light, people do the chanting of the Rakshoghna Mantras from the Rig Veda in order to erase and cast away all kinds of evil spirits.
Following the puja, women prepare garlands made of cow dung. Incense sticks and dhoop, flowers, raw cotton thread, batasha, turmeric pieces, gulal color, and coconut are used in the puja. Along with the fully-grown grains from freshly harvested crops like wheat and gram can also be included in the puja items.
Conclusion: Holika Dahan is celebrated by burning bonfire on the eve of the festival of Holi. The festival is said to hold a significance of the accomplishment conquering win of good over evil. Women pray for the prosperity, peace, and well-being of their partners, children. People dance and sing around the bonfire in the happiness of evil moving away and goodness getting attracted.