Usually when festivities are celebrated without considering appropriate times, it is believed that they do not bring full positive results. But, Holika Dahan is the only festival where conducting the rituals outside of appropriate times is believed to bring suffering and misfortunes.
So, what is Holika Dahan?
Holika was sister to the two demons, Hiranya Kashapu and Hiranyaksha. Upon much prayers and penance, she was blessed with a special blanket that allowed her to remain unscathed in fire. Like all blessings this was meant to be used only towards good outcomes.
When Hiranya Kashapu was unsuccessful in killing his son Prahalad; who he deemed to be supporter of his “arch enemy” Lord Vishnu; he requested Holika to sit in a bonfire with his son. He expected that the fire would not harm his sister and char down his son. But as the incident progressed, Prahalad started chanting prayers and devotional hymns toward Lord Vishnu and the fire protected him and instead burnt and killed (Dahan) Holika.
Significance of Holika Dahan
Holika Dahan reminds us that good is ultimately always victorious over evil. It also shows that those who follow a path of righteousness are always protected and saved by the Divine. This victory of good over evil is celebrated next day with festive fanfare and colors which continues for five days till Ranga Panchami, which is the festival of colors.
Holika Dahan also reminds us to utilize our blessings for the good and not support harmful intensions! Those who do, bring on their own downfall and perish…
Traditional Rituals for Holika Dahan
People light a bonfire as per the appropriate time for the region, which is indicated by the Panchang. The actual joyous celebrations and fanfare with spraying and smearing with colors start the next day.