Holika Dahan | Holi as in Vedas


“Let Holi be the Happiest Occasion of Love and Intimacy”

Have you ever thought that what is the significance of Holika Dahan before the festival?

Have you ever wondered as for why Holi is celebrated by playing with different colours?

Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan is done on the eve of Holi Festival. According to mythological tales, Holika was the sister of devil Hiranya Kashyapu who sat with her nephew Prahlad on burning pyres to burn him alive. Holika was gifted with a shawl by Prajapati Brahma, which can protect her from fire, and she shall remain alive even amidst wild gushes of flames.

Holika Dahan

Prahlad was the son of devil Hiranya Kashyapu who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. His father was strongly against his adoration and devotion towards Lord Vishnu. He instructed his sister to do anything in her limits to kill Prahlad. Prahlad kept on uttering the name of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu made an ethereal presence and blew a gust of wind. On this, the shawl worn by Holika flew and covered Prahlad. In this way, the flames of the pyres burnt Holika and keeping Prahlad safe.

holika Dahan

If we take ourselves off from the mythological perspective and relate the incident with ground level reality, we get a noble moral from the lore. Holika had devilish attributes, which signifies the evil intentions and bad feelings or deeds in a human. History has repeatedly proved that evil motives and persons always face destruction. It happens irrespective of the amount of safety cover or precaution a misdoer takes.

Similarly, although Holika had the shawl granted by one of the trinities, she was unable to save herself. The fire signifies the wrath of time and fortune that burns all negative feelings and attributes and the shawl represents the fruits of Karma.

Holika earned the shawl by tedious and painful penance and Tapasya or devotion. Yet her bad deeds or Karma succumbed her achievement. On the other hand, Prahlad was a kid and was pure by heart and mind engaged in the devotion of Lord Vishnu. His pious heart never fostered any negative thought or feeling. Due to this he came out unharmed from the burning pyres.

Holika Dahan

Approach to Lord Vishnu made by Prahlad can be termed identical to be our devotion towards our duties and responsibilities. If we always stay focused on our goals with an integrated approach comprising honesty and truth, it shall be our Karma, which will save us from all mishaps.

On the occasion of Holika Dahan, we burn all useless and unwanted articles we see around ourselves. This activity holds a sign that we should burn our negative thoughts and feelings in the fire of repentance, as they are equivalent to the rubbish, which pollutes our soul. This will help us in healing our heart out of all pains and sufferings with a chaste feel of self-realisation and self-cognisance.

We celebrate Holi in the third or last week of the month of March every year. Holi marks the arrival of spring season. Spring season is the most beautiful of all the seasons. The entire nature looks bright and vibrant with flower-laden trees with lush green leaves throughout the horizon and vicinity. Nature dresses her in a wide gamut of colours. This can be one of the inferences behind the use of colours in celebrating Holi. We welcome the spring season by smearing ourselves in vibrant colours. By this we display our wish to see nature from a similar perspective.

If we merge the above two deductions, we arise to a common conclusion. The night before Holi we engage ourselves in the performing rituals related to Holika Dahan and the next day we play with colours to celebrate Holi. If we follow the sequence, it tries to signify that to enjoy anything to its fullest; you have to burn all negative thoughts and feelings accumulated in your mind. It tries to enlighten the fact that burning the devil inside you and embrace the spring season happily by dressing yourself in colorful attire as nature is going to be soon.

Vedic Holi

Holi commemorates an ultimate triumph of the ‘good’ over the ‘evil’. Literally, “Holi” signifies “burning” in Indian language. This burning is dissolution. The gist of Vedic perception of flame that dissolves our karma of previous twelve months into the holy fire of HOLI signifies that we cleanse our closets, our houses, and our minds. The flame of fire is twofold. One is ‘divine Agni’ and the other is Nirritti-Bhasma or the destruction flame. Divine flame brings proliferations. Holi removes evil.

We can correlate the Vedic meaning behind Holi to its metaphysical and physical consciences. The consciences are confinement of time, space, karma, and life here on human earth. Holi is a time for us all to remove from our lives any adverse thought, feeling, or energy into the pyre of the flame of Holi.

Holi signifies dissolution of old thought and rejuvenating our life with the true life breath. It fills life with renewed and revitalized spiritual health, consciousness, virtue, religion, compassion and love. Above all it creates awareness of the world around us, the world within us and the world beyond us. If we truly implement the scientific meaning of Holi, then the Vedas are rightfully correct. Every so often, we need to cleanse our body, homes, minds, consciousness, hearts, spirits, sublime intellect, and karma. Holi entails all of these.


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