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Holika Dahan on Holi and Dhuleti in India

Many years ago there lived a Demon King called Hiranyakashyap who had the boon of immortality given to him by Lord Brahma. But, the more powerful he became he also became more and more arrogant. He wanted people to pray him and not pray God. But, his own son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. The Demon King tried all that he could to stop Prahlad from praying his enemy Vishnu but the boy’s faith only increased. Eventually, sick of his son’s ways Hiranyakashyap ordered his sister to sit on a pyre with Prahlad in her Lap.

Holika was blessed with a shawl, which would prevent the fire from harming her and would instead only burn Prahlad. The little boy prayed to Lord Vishnu to save him. Not only did Prahald was saved but Holika instead was burnt to death. Since that time, the burning of Holika is an important part of Holi celebrations, signifying the victory of Good over Evil.

Holika Dahan or the lighting of bonfire takes place on the evening of Holi. The day is also popularly called “Chhoti Holi” or the “Small Holi”. The bigger event – play with the color takes place on the next big day called “Dhuleti”. Holika Dahan is an extremely popular tradition and is celebrated with fervour all across the country and is symbolic of triumph of good over evil. There are numerous legends associated with this ancient tradition and it is difficult to pinpoint as to when actually the tradition started.

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