The entire India is celebrating one of the most loved festivals today, the festival of colors – Holi!
Holi is a two-day festival, celebrated during spring in India, where first-day people burn a pyre to celebrate the story of Holika & Bhakta Prahlad. And next morning celebrate it with colors, called Dhulivandan.
Like all the festivals in the world, Holi also has a backstory. As much of the other Indian festivals like Diwali, Dussehra – Holi is also celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil.
Let me tell you how this festival got its name.
Once there lived a demon king, named Hiranyakashyap. he underwent many years of great austerity and penance, to please Lord Brahma. Brahma becoming pleased byHiranyakashipu’s austerities offered him a boon of his choice.
Hiranyakashyap asked for immortality which Brahma promptly refused. So Hiranyakashyap requested for a boon where he can not be killed by
- any of the living entities (human/animals etc)
- within any residence or outside any residence
- during the daytime or at night
- on the ground or in the sky
- nor by any weapon
Feeling immune with this Boon, Hiranyakshyap started considering himself a god and asked everybody to worship him.
To his great ire, his son Prahlad who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu refused to do so.This infuriated Hiranyakaship and he subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right.
Angered with this, Hiranyakashyap wanted to get rid of his son. He wanted to make an example of his son’s disobedience. Hiranyakashyap’s sister Holika had a boon that made her immune to injury from fire.
To get rid of his son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad. However, due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu, Prahlad was left unscathed in the fire on the other side Holika was burnt to ashes.
The tradition of burning Holika or the ‘Holika Dahan’ comes mainly from this legend.
This story further goes on to explain how Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Narasimha (half human/half animal) to kill Hirnyakshyap with his bare hands at the time of dusk. But that’s the story for another time.
Today, let me wish you Happy Holi. May God paint the canvas of your life with the colors of joy, love, happiness, prosperity, good health and success.