Why do we celebrate Holika Dahan before Holi?


Why do we celebrate Holika Dahan before Holi? – Holi is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu religion and Holika Dahan is a crucial part of the Holi. Holika Dahan symbolizes the burning of Holika is celebrated the day before Holi, every year during the full moon of the month of Falgun. On the first day of the festival of Holi, the bonfire is ignited usually at or after sunset, to signify Holika Dahan. The Holika Dahan festival celebrates the triumph of goodness over evil. On this day, a demon named Holika is believed to have died.

There are various explanations for Holika’s Dahan that have been offered in many parts of India. In North India, Nepal, and some parts of South India, pyres are lit the night before Holi to celebrate the festival.

Why do we celebrate Holika Dahan before Holi?
Why do we celebrate Holika Dahan before Holi?

History And Significance of Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan is celebrated as the victory of good over evil by burning the demon Holika. Worshipping Holika before burning Holika Dahan is believed to banish all types of worries as well as provide peace from the unfavorable influences of planets. On the evening of Holika Dahan, people gather around a bonfire to celebrate the victory of the good over the evil powers which represents Holika being burned by the fire in which, she attempted to kill her nephew Prahlad a devotee of God Vishnu and thus the festival Holi gets its name.

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According to Hindu tradition, there was an arrogant king named Hiranakashyap, he was proud of his power and started thinking of himself as God during the ‘Satyuga Yug’. He wanted everyone to worship him instead of God, but his own son Prahlad turned out to be a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Everyone who does not worship him will face the death penalty, so everyone began worshipping him out of dread of the death penalty. Despite his father’s refusal, Prahlad continued to worship Vishnu and he refused to worship his father. The Demon king Hiranyakashyap tried to kill Prahlad many times, but Prahlad was saved every time by the grace of the Lord Vishnu.

When Hiranakashyap failed to kill Prahlad, his sister claimed to have a boon that she would not burn in the fire and would sit in it with Prahlad in her lap. Prahlad would burn in the fire as a result of this, and Holika would sit on a pile of wood with Prahlad, but Lord Vishnu’s grace, Prahlad was saved, and the evil Holika was burned to death in the fire.  Brahma granted Holika the power on the condition that she never use it to harm anyone. Since then, fire is lit to represent Holika’s burning (Holika Dahan) on the eve of Holi.

Then, Hirnakashyap himself tried to kill Prahlad and Lord Vishnu emerged as an incarnation of Narasimha which was the incarnation of lion-male and killed the wicked king Hiranyakashipu.

How to celebrate Holika Dahan?

The preparations for the Holika Dahan event started months in advance. Cow dung cakes and a huge pile of Wood are collected to make the Holika bonfire. People begin to gather for the lighting of the Holika bonfire at the city’s major crossroads a day before Holi. It is important Holika is lit at an auspicious time on the day of Holika Dahan.  It is said that performing Holika Puja during Holi may help people overcome their fears. The rituals represent the triumph of virtue over evil which bestows power, money, and fortune. People do fire parikrama people sing and dance. Around the fire and also apply the ashes of Holika’s fire on their foreheads to ward off evil shadows.

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