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Holika Dahan: Everything You Need To Know

Holi is known as a celebration of good triumphing over evil, just as Holika's death was.

Holi or the festival of colors is derived from the term “Holika,” and has long been regarded as a sign of light gaining power over darkness. This saying, like this festival, has a well-known origin story. 

Holika, was King Hiranyakashipu’s evil sister. Hiranyakashipu himself was an ‘Asura’ (demon) king who also had conquered the three realms of heaven, earth, and hell and was very proud of his achievements. With his valor, he believed he could even conquer Lord Vishnu. He grew in power as a result of his evil thinking and forced his people to refer to him as God and obey him instead of all other deities. Inability to do this will result in significant outcomes.

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Holika
Holika and Prahlada. Wikimedia Commons

Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu’s son and one of Lord Vishnu’s most devoted worshippers, declined to obey his orders and preferred to worship the Lord with utmost sincerity and devotion. When he learned that even his son Prahlada had a religious inclination towards Lord Vishnu, he tried to persuade him to change his mind. Hiranyakashipu being a brute and an egoist did not tolerate his son Prahlada’s dedication towards Lord Vishnu.

He attempted to harm his son, have him crushed by elephants, and kill him in different ways. Because of devotion,  Hiranyakashipu and Holika attempted to assassinate Prahlad on many occasions. Prahlada, on the other hand, was able to endure even the most heinous of threats.

And then, one day, enraged by his son’s opposition, when Hiranyakashipu’s anger had reached its breaking point he sought the assistance of his sister Holika, who was given the boon of being free to stand through fire without being burned. The cruel aunt gave in to his brother’s sinful wishes and went into the flames with her nephew Prahlada. Hiranyakashipu forced Prahlada to sit on Holika’s lap while she sat atop a roaring bonfire.

Holika
Narsimha Badri Temple, Joshimath, Uttarakhand, India. This is the same holy place where devotee Prahlada offered a prayer to Lord Narsimha Deva and he descended to protect him from the asura king Hiranyakashipu. @_one.more.shot_

Prahlada did not back down from his promise. He prayed ardently and had absolute trust in Lord Vishnu. And yes! Lord Vishnu descended and saved him at the last minute as he was true to his principles.  

Prahlada, who was protected by Lord Vishnu, spared being set alight, but Holika was burned to ashes irrespective of the boon. 

ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna

As a consequence, the roots of Holi can be traced back to the death of the wicked sister Holika. Lord Narsimha (The Man-Lion) an incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared to save Prahlada just as Holika captured and tried to burn him alive. And just like that, Holi is known as a celebration of good triumphing over evil, just as Holika’s death was. Massive pyres are burned in several parts of the country on the eve of the celebration to symbolize Holika Dahan and the annihilation of demonic eyes.

Despite her demonic nature, Holika is worshipped alongside Prahlada preceding Holika Dahan. All kinds of fears are said to be vanquished by worshipping Holika on Holi.

By- Khushi Bisht

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