Holi: What’s the legend behind Holi festival of colours; Holika Dahan Muhurta

Holika Dahan 2021: Holi celebrations have already started in Mathura and Vrindavan. People are out playing Holi and pictures of Lathmar Holi and Laddu Mar Holi are coming in from Brijbhoomi. Holika Dahan is just three days away. Holika Dahan is also known as Holika Deepak or Chhoti Holi.

The rituals of Holika Dahan celebrates the victory of good over evil. People light a bonfire after sundown, which is of great significance. There is a specific time or muhurta for lighting the bonfire and people chant mantras and sing traditional folklore around the Holika Dahan bonfire.

When is Holika Dahan?
Holika Dahan will be observed on 28th March, Sunday.

Holika Dahan muhurta or auspicious time
The muhurta for Holika Dahan is between 6:37 PM to 8:56 PM. The bonfire should lit during Pradosh Kaal, which starts after sunset.

Phalgun Purnima tithi
Purnima tithi starts at 3:27 AM on March 28 and ends on 12:17 PM on March 29

Holika Dahan Puja Vidhi and all you need
For Holika Dahan puja you will need a bowl of water, Roli, unbroken rice grains or Akshat, insense sticks, flowers, raw cotton thread, turmeric pieces, unbroken moong daal, batasha (sugar or gur candy), coconut and gulal.

The place where Holika is kept is cleaned thoroughly. A tall wooden stick is kept in the center and surrounded with straw and other items which one would like to throw away. The Holika Dahan fire signifies burning of evil.
From smearing each other with colours to enjoying a plate of delicious gujiyas together, the festival of Holi ushers in a carnivalesque mood among people of all age groups, every year.

While the main festival of colours is officially due in a couple of days, a lot of people in the country have already started indulging in merrymaking.

Most of us observe Holi every year, but do you know why we actually celebrate it?

An ancient Hindu festival, which later became popular among non-Hindu communities as well, Holi heralds the arrival of spring after winter. It signifies the victory of good over evil and is celebrated as a day of spreading happiness and love. The festival is also celebrated as thanksgiving for good harvest.

The legend
According to Bhagvata Purana, King Hiranyakashipu–the king of demonic Asuras, who could neither be killed by a man or an animal–grew arrogant and demanded that everybody should worship him as god.

The king’s son, Prahlada, disagreed and chose to remain devoted to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu was infuriated and subjected his son to cruel punishments. Finally, Holika, the king’s sister, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. While Holika protected herself with a cloak, Prahlada remained exposed. As the fire blazed, the cloak flew from Holika’s body and encased Prahlada, thus saving his life.

Later, Vishnu appeared in the avatar of Narsimha, half man and half lion, and killed the king. This is why Holi begins with the Holika bonfire, which marks the end of evil.

According to another legend, Lord Krishna had developed a characteristic blue skin colour after Putana, a demon, poisoned him with her breast milk. Krishna worried if the fair-skinned Radha and her companions would ever like him because of his skin colour. Krishna’s mother then asked him to approach Radha and smear her face with any colour he wanted. The playful colouring gradually evolved as a tradition and later, as a festival observed as Holi, in the Braj region of India.

According to another legend, Lord Krishna had developed a blue skin color after Putana, a demon poisoned him with his breast milk. Krishna was worried if Radha and her companions would have ever liked him because of his skin color. Krishna’s mother then asked him to go to Radha and smear her face with any color. The fickle color gradually developed as a tradition and later, in the Braj region of India, is celebrated as a festival celebrated as Holi.

The night of Holi begins a day before Holika Dahan, where people perform rituals in front of the bonfire, praying to destroy their inner evil, just as Holika was killed in the fire.

The Carnival of Colors begins the next morning, where people take to the streets to play with colors, and submerge each other in colorful water through water guns or balloons.

Interestingly, different regions of India follow different customs to this day. For example, in West Bengal and Assam, Holi is known as the spring festival or spring festival.

A popular form of Holi, called Lathmar Holi, is celebrated in Barsana, a town near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, where women beat men with sticks, such as chanting ‘Shri Radhe’ or ‘Shri Krishna’ . ‘

Then, in Maharashtra, it is time for Matki Phod (breaking the pot). The men climb on top of each other to form a human pyramid from which a pot buttermilk is hung to a height. The name of the pot breaker is the Holy King of the Year.

In Vrindavan, widows and abandoned women drown in colors on Holi. Again, in Punjab, Sikhs roam in colors on Hola Mohalla, which is celebrated the day after Holi.

The customs and customs may vary across regions, but what unites them is the spirit of this festival of colors.