Nagpur: As Nagpurian celebrate Holika Dahan here’s the story behind the big bad bonfire we light up on the eve of Holi.
If you happen to come across any temples in the week running up to Holi, you’d probably see the timing and date written for Holika Dahan.
Held on Chotti Holi–and the eve of Holi–the legend related to Holika Dahan is a story often told during childhood and seen on the telly with the underlining theme of the victory of good over evil.
It is believed that there lived a demon king, Hiranyakashyap, who wanted everyone in the kingdom to consider him as their god and worship him. However, when his own son, Prahlad, failed to comply with his father’s wishes, and instead ended up becoming a follower or Lord Vishnu, Hirankashyap was unimpressed (and that’s an understatement).
Having tried many ways to kill his son, all of which failed because of Lord Vishnu having protected Prahlad every single time, he involved his sister, Holika, in his plans.
His sister was blessed with a special cloak, which could prevent her from any damage from fire. Wrapping the cloak around herself, Holika sat with her nephew Prahlad in her lap in a bonfire; being unaware of the fact that the cloak would protect her only when she entered a fire alone. When the fire diminished, Holika was burned to death, while Prahlad, who kept on chanting Lord Vishnu’s name, emerged unscathed.
A victory of good over evil and the idea of undying faith, a Holi celebration is incomplete without the Holika Dahan. Earlier, people would collect logs of wood and twigs to donate to the common bonfire. While that tradition seems to have taken a backseat, people still participate in the bonfire by walking around it (parikarma) and offering stalks of wheat and gram.
Post Holika Dahan comes the day for Dhuleti or Rangwali Holi, which sees people take part in the festival by smearing each other with colours and spraying water.
On that note, here’s wishing you all a fabulous Holi!