This year the month of Phalgun concludes on Wednesday 27th March with Purnima (the full moon).
Holika Dahan is on 5th March. On this day Hindus light or burn bonfire made from logs of wood to symbolize victory of good over evil and observe Holi Pooja.
Like most other Hindu festivals Holi denotes the triumph of righteousness over evil.
The festival derives its name from Holika, the sister of an ancient demon King Hiranyakshipu. She was set alight on this day with her nephew Bhakt Prahlad in her lap. Despite a boon to be unharmed by flames, Holika did not survive the fire, but Bhakt Prahlad walked away unscratched.
On this day Lord Vishnu reincarnated as Lord Narsing [half animal and half human form], at 6.00pm sharp being neither day nor night. He destroyed Prahlad’s dad, King Hiranyakashipu because the King had declared himself to be the absolute authority, i.e. being above God. King Hiranyakshipu had stopped everyone from worshipping God, and had turned everybody towards recognising him as the authority above God.
The King had tried to get his own son Bhakt Prahlad killed a few times, due to the fact that
Bhakt Prahlad disputed his dad in his claim for supremacy over God, and continued to worship Lord Vishnu and embrace Hinduism in its entirety.
This frustrated King Hiranyakshipu tried various means to get rid of his son and stop him from spreading the word against his own father.
- Throwing his son off a mountain
- Drowning him in the sea
- Having him burnt by his sister Holika,
- Having Bhakt Prahlad hold a big pillar (khambh) which has been heated to a very high temperature.
But Bhakt Prahlad’s devotion (bhakti) was so strong that nothing would harm him.
Lord Vishnu emerged, in the form of Narsing, out of the same pillar (khambh), and killed King Hiranyakshipu. Lord Narsing derived his name because of his form being half human, half animal. ‘Nar’ means human and ‘sing’ means lion. Lord Narsing killed the King in the twilight hour (not day, not night), on the entrance of his palace court (not inside, not outside), over his lap (not on earth surface, not in the air), using his lion-like claws (not with weapon, not without a weapon). These special conditions were necessary due to a boon Lord Brahma had granted King Hiranyakshipu after the King had performed great tapasya to gain Lordship over the material world. The boon was that King Hiranyakshipu could not be killed by a man or a beast, with a weapon or without a weapon, during the day or the night, indoors or outdoors, on the earth or in the air.
It was while King Hiranyakshipu was performing his tapasya, that his wife Queen Kayadhu, who was already expecting their child (Bhakt Prahlad) was sent by the God’s to Sage Narada’s hermitage where she learnt all about the glory of Lord Vishnu. As she was learning, so too was her son, Bhakt Prahlad, absorbing all this great knowledge whilst still in his mother’s womb. As the boy grew up he had unshakable shraddha and bhakti towards Lord Vishnu, despite his father’s megalomania and attempts at intimidation.
Bhakt Prahlad was considered very divine, and he still is today, because at such a tender age he challenged his dad’s ways. Where as the elders in King Hiranyakshipu’s Kingdom had succumbed to the King’s orders and had started worshipping him.
After the death of King Hiranyakshipu, his son Bhakt Prahlad ruled as King, wisely, for many many years.
Lessons from Holi Festival
We can be inspired by the young Bhakt Prahlad’s immense devotion and reminded that with such unselfish devotion and faith in God, through all hardships and calamities we will be protected and that no evil, however strong, can conquer righteousness and the immense grace of God.
The burning of the Holika during Holi is also to remind us of the burning of our evil tendencies, of conceit, greed, hatred and lust and all impurities. After all it was only the pure Bhakt Prahlad who emerged from the flames unscathed when his aunt Holika tried to kill him there.
Lord Ram and Lord Krishna
It is believed that Lord Ram in Tretha Yug celebrated Holi on this day, and so did Lord Krishna in Dwapar Yug. Holi, as it is celebrated today with much colour, festivities, dances and food was actually started during Lord Krishna’s time.
It is said in Shiv Maha Puran that the Phalgun and Sharvan month are the two most auspicious for Lord Shiv’s bhakti.
Lord Shiva’s connection to Lord Narsing came after Lord Narsing killed King Hiranyakshipu and crowned Bhakt Prahlad as the new ruler of the Kingdom.
The Shiv Puran says that Lord Narsing’s anger was not calmed even after replacing King Hiranyakshipu. It was then that all the Gods and Goddesses went to Lord Shiva and asked for help. Lord Shiva first sent his Bhairo form and then later his Virbhadra form to calm Lord Narsing.
The playing of colour started from the King’s death when people used his blood and ashes from the dead Holika. Since then devotees have diversified their celebrations by playing Holi colour in a variety of different types (rung).
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WISHING YOU ALL A COLORFULL HOLI From Pdt Davendra Sharma
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