Is Holika Dahan a Public Holiday?
Holika Dahan is considered as an optional public holiday in India. On this day, several professional organizations, shops, malls, public dealing offices and academic universities either alter their opening and closing time, remain fully functional or can opt for limited working hours.
However, Indian Employment Laws allow the employees and organizations to chalk out a list of holidays for the whole year.
Holika Dahan Story & Observance
Holika Dahan history in religious scriptures holds high significance and glorifies the victory of good over evil. A historic legend is associated with the observance of Holika Dahan, which explains why Lord Vishnu is commonly venerated on this occasion.
As mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, there was an evil and cruel Demon King named Hiranyakashipu, who was blessed with five boons. These five boons were:
- Neither a man or human being could kill him
- He couldn’t be killed either indoors or outdoors
- He couldn’t be killed at day or night
- He couldn’t be killed either by an astra or shastra
- He couldn’t be killed either on land, air or water
However, his own son, Prahlad, refused to follow his father’s demands since he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. After subjecting him to cruel punishments, he asked his sister Holika to trick the little boy into sitting with her on the burning pyre.
His intentions were to persuade him to leave his path and start worshipping his own father as the ultimate God. Finally when Holika sat on the pyre, she wore a blessed shawl or cloak, which flew away due to excessive air and landed on Prahlad. In such a manner, Prahlad survived the fire, whereas Holika burned to ashes.
At that moment, it was Lord Vishnu in his Narsimha avatar (half lion and half human) who appeared in front of Hiranyakashipu at dusk (neither morning or night), put him on his lap (neither air, water or land) and eviscerated him with his own claws (neither shastra or astra).
In such a manner, he established his victory of Good over Evil. From that day onwards, lighting a bonfire one day before Holi became a ritual, which came to be known as Holika Dahan.
Holika Dahan Rituals & Celebrations
Traditional rituals are carried out on the evening of Holika Dahan throughout India, and may vary from state to state. Lighting a bonfire with logs of wood and cow dung cakes and burning effigies of Holika is a common sight on the night of Holika Dahan.
During its preparations, logs of wood are stacked together along with cow dung cakes, and a pyre is made. It is believed that in old times, every household used to contribute a piece of wood for the Holika bonfire as a sign of communal harmony and unity.
According to religious customs and traditions, the place where the Holika pyre will be lit is washed with Gangajal and cow dung. A long, wooden log is erected and a garland of cow dung cakes, also known as Badkula or Gulari, is hung on it.
The idols of Prahlad and Holika are created with cow dung and placed on the top. After that, all wooden logs are stacked together, and Prahlad’s idol is taken out before lighting it.
Holika Dahan Rituals
- Purify the altar by chanting the mantra “ऊँ पुण्डरीकाक्ष: पुनातु: / ūm̐ puṇḍarīkākṣa: punātu:” and remembering Lord Vishnu while facing the North or East.
- Take a Sankalp or an Oath while keeping some flowers, money, rice and water in the right hand.
- Chant the below mantra, seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha and offer flowers and rice to him.
- After that, recite the mantra below, seek the blessings of Goddess Ambika and offer flowers, roli and rice to her.
- Chant the below mantra, seek the blessings of Lord Narasimha and offer flowers and rice to him.
- It’s time to venerate Lord Vishnu’s loyal devotee, Prahlad. Chant the below mantra, roli and offer flowers and rice to him.
- Now fold your hands, stand in front of the Holika pyre and wish for happiness and prosperity. Chant the mantra below:
- Offer incense, rice, flowers, turmeric, moong dal and circumambulate three, five or seven times while tying raw yarn around it.
- Light the pyre on fire, and apply the ash on the forehead after that. Doing this helps to purify mind, body and soul.
- New crops are offered to the fire and then distributed as Prasad.
गजाननं भूतगणादिसेवितं कपित्थजम्बूफलचारुभक्षणम्।
उमासुतं शोकविनाशकारकं नमामि विघ्नेश्वरपादपमजम्।।
ऊँ गं गणपतये नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।
gajānanaṃ bhūtagaṇādisevitaṃ kapitthajambūphalacārubhakṣaṇam।
umāsutaṃ śokavināśakārakaṃ namāmi vighneśvarapādapamajam।।
ūm̐ gaṃ gaṇapataye nama: paṃcopacārārthe gaṃdhākṣatapuṣpāṇi samarpayāmi।
ऊँ अम्बिकायै नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि सर्मपयामि।।
ūm̐ ambikāyai nama: paṃcopacārārthe gaṃdhākṣatapuṣpāṇi sarmapayāmi।।
ऊँ नृसिंहाय नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।।
ūm̐ nṛsiṃhāya nama: paṃcopacārārthe gaṃdhākṣatapuṣpāṇi samarpayāmi।।
ऊँ प्रह्लादाय नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।।
ūm̐ prahlādāya nama: paṃcopacārārthe gaṃdhākṣatapuṣpāṇi samarpayāmi।।
असृक्पाभयसंत्रस्तै: कृता त्वं होलि बालिशै:
अतस्त्वां पूजयिष्यामि भूते भूतिप्रदा भव:।।
asṛkpābhayasaṃtrastai: kṛtā tvaṃ holi bāliśai:
atastvāṃ pūjayiṣyāmi bhūte bhūtipradā bhava:।।
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1. How long is Holi in India?
The Holi Festival takes place over two days in India and Nepal, where there is a significant Hindu population.
2. How do we celebrate the Holi festival?
We celebrate Holi with colors as Holi is the festival of colors.
3. Why are bonfires of fires in general important during Holi?
The festivities begin the night before Holi, called Holika Dahan. People build bonfires that signify a positive victory over evil and the end of winter.
4. Who was Holika’s brother?
She was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu and aunt of Prahlad.
We hope you have liked our article on Holika Dahan 2019. Wishing you a prosperous Holika Dahan and colorful Holi!