Happy Holi 2020: Here are myths and lesser known facts about Holika Dahan

Happy Holi 2020: Holika Dahan is celebrated every year a day before Holi. Also known as Chhoti Holi, this year it will be celebrated on March 9.
Happy Holi 2020: Devotees smear colour on each other’s faces and distribute sweets like gujiya on Chhoti Holi.(Anil Dayal/Hindustan Times)
Happy Holi 2020: Devotees smear colour on each other’s faces and distribute sweets like gujiya on Chhoti Holi.(Anil Dayal/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Mar 08, 2020 12:46 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

Holika Dahan is celebrated every year a day before Holi. Also known as Chhoti Holi, this year it will be celebrated on March 9. People observe this festival by burning fires in their localities. They sing and dance around the fire and circumambulate it. Devotees smear colour on each other’s faces and distribute sweets like gujiya.

Legend of Holika Dahan

The word Holi derives its name from Holika. According to Hindu mythology, Holika was the sister of demon King Hiranyakashyapu.

As per the legend, Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, Prahlad was born to Hiranyakashyapu. Prahlad’s devotion to lord Vishnu did not go down well with his father. As a result of this, Hiranyakashyapu tried to kill his son several times, but the Vishnu devotee escaped unhurt every time, frustrating the demon king.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts, the demon king thought of taking help from his sister, Holika, who had a boon by Lord Brahma which said she would not be burnt in a fire.

As per the myth, Holika had a shawl which would protect her from the flames of a fire. The demon king asked her sister to take Prahlad on her lap and set the two on fire. Prahlad kept chanting the name of Lord Vishnu and as the fire got intense, a gust of wind removed the shawl from Holika and went on to cover Prahlad, killing the enchantress in the flames.

Significance

The legend signifies the victory of good over evil. People burn fires on the occasion of Holika Dahan to eliminate their ego, lust, greed, anger and jealousy.

Lesser known facts

Another myth says that Kansa, uncle of lord Krishna, feared that according to a prophecy, the evil king would be killed by his sister’s son Krishna. In order to protect himself from Krishna, Kansa sent Putna to kill his nephew, who was an infant. The plan was to poison him under the guise of breast-feeding. But what transpired was shocking for Putna. Krishna not only sucked her poisonous milk, but her blood too. Fearing for her life, she ran but burst into flames.

Holi is not only celebrated in India, but in other parts of the world as well. It is celebrated with much fanfare in countries like Fiji, the US and others, where large numbers of Indians live.

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