New Delhi: The festival of Holi that celebrates the spirit of inclusiveness and humanity heralds the onset of spring after winters in the Indian subcontinent.
The festival that marks the victory of good over evil is celebrated on two days - Holika Dahan and Holi Milan.
While on the main festival of Holi Milan, people celebrate the day by smearing colours on each other and exchanging sweets, the festival of Holika Dahan is celebrated in a different way by setting a holy bonfire termed as `Holika`.
The legend has it that Holika Dahan came into practice after the famous King Hiranyakashyap tried to burn his son Prahlad who was a devotee of Hindu Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashyap`s sister Holika was given a gift of a shawl in the form of a boon which prevented her from being harmed by any fire.
In a conspiracy to kill Prahlad out of jealousy, Hiranyakashyap and Holika planned to make Prahlad sit in the lap of Holika in a holy pyre so that he dies and Holika remains alive due to the special boon.
But it later turned out that the fire burnt down Holika and devotee Prahlad came out safe and after that day Holika Dahan was celebrated every year to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Speaking to ANI about the practise a priest from Ayodhya, Kaushalyanand Ji Maharaj told ANI, "Being the real aunt and father of Prahlad, the duo tried to burn him due to jealousy. The god says that all negative emotions, jealousy, enmity and all those who think negatively about human being cannot get god`s blessings."
"So with the Holika Dahan, all negativity was burnt in the holy fire. This signifies that hatred, jealousy, enmity should be given up and the main goal of humanity is to think about everybody`s happiness," he added.
Further explaining why the festival is celebrated a day before the main festival of colours, he said, "This is why Holika Dahan is celebrated a day before the Holi Milan (meeting) because only after removing all negativity among us we will be able to meet others with positivity. This is why the festival is celebrated a day before Milan."Every year a day prior to the festival of Holi, a holy pyre, made up of wood and cowdung cakes, is set in localities to mark the end of negativity and evil and the victory of the good. Astrologers take out a Muhurat for the timing of Holi Dahan. During the practice, a holy ritual of worshipping the pyre is also conducted in the evening which is then followed by setting it to fire.
As a part of the rituals, devotees also walk around the holy pyre after setting it to fire. (ANI)