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Holika Dahana – March 7, 2023

Holika Dahan, also called the Festival of Colours, is celebrated yearly in March, and this year, it falls on March 7. The date of the festival varies each year because it is determined by the Indian lunar calendar. However, it is celebrated during the first full moon in March which is usually between March 7 to March 28. The holiday celebrates the triumph of good over evil and commemorates the story of Prahlad and Holika, two characters from Indian folklore. With bonfires and dancing, the holiday is celebrated on an auspicious date in the evening. The celebration continues to the next day with splash play which involves throwing color powder on each other. This is called Holi. On this day, relationships are mended and created as the start of the Spring season commences.

History of Holika Dahana

Holika Dahan marks the first day of the Holi celebration. On this day, pyres are set up around India to prepare for a ritual that involves a large group of people who sing and dance harmoniously around a burning effigy. The fire symbolizes the eradication of an evil spirit and begins in the evening as soon as the full moon is out.

The procession is a re-enactment of the story of Holika and her nephew Prahlad. Prahlad’s father, Hiranyakashyapu, was a great king who received powers from a deity. He could not be hurt or killed by anything. Thus, he assumed the position of a god and demanded everyone worship him. Although the townspeople followed suit, the king’s very own son did not worship his father because he was a staunch devotee of the supreme being, Lord Vishnu.

This blatant disregard caused Hiranyakashyapu great anger, so he sought to kill his son. After many failed attempts, the king decided to ask his sister, Holika, immune to fire, for help. Holika was given the task to lure Prahlad into a burning pyre, leading to Prahlad’s death. To their dismay, the plan did not go as anticipated because Lord Vishnu intercepted. Vishnu rescued Prahlad and Holika burned in the fire, despite her immunity.

This earned Vishnu the title “The Protector of Good” as he protected his devotee from his evil aunt. Holika Dahan is followed by fun festivities the next day, with water splashing, painting with color powder, and snacks. During this holiday, devotees find solace in Lord Vishnu while other participants pay tribute to Prahlad’s sheer bravery and trust.

The day is used to reconcile and reflect on life and relationships. The holiday’s symbolism has traveled across borders as now it is celebrated by Hindus in India and by everyone worldwide. Countries like South Africa, Europe, Australia, and the United States participate in the festivities.

Holika Dahana timeline

4th Century
The First Holi

The first Holi celebration takes place.

1665
No More Holi

Emperor Aurangzeb bans Holi celebrations.

1837
The Sikh Records

Ranjit Singh uses 300 mounds of colors to celebrate Holi.

1857
Holi Mela

Holi Mela is celebrated in Uttar Pradesh.

Holika Dahana FAQs

What lesson do we learn from Holika Dahan?

The holiday teaches us that good will always conquer evil.

Why do we play with colors during Holi?

The color and water play come from the playful ways of Krishna. Krishna was afraid that Radha would not like him because of his color. His mother advised him to paint Radha’s face with the color of his choice. It turns out Radha liked him, blue or green.

What is the difference between Holi and Dewali?

Dewali is the Festival of Lights, while Holi is the festival of Color.

How to Observe Holika Dahana

  1. Visit India

    Join in the fun! Get splashed with colors and water on Holi while enjoying the beautiful sights around the blessed land.

  2. Eat Indian cuisine

    Try eating popular Holi snacks like gujiya (fried dumplings), malpua (pancakes), Kachori, and Barfi. If these sound strange to you, try them; they're tasty. Don’t forget to share with friends and family. Holi is not only about color but also about sharing.

  3. Enjoy yourself

    Holi is a playful holiday. Celebrate by splashing color or water on loved ones. Hold dancing contests and try Indian dance moves. You can also re-enact the story of Holika and Prahlad.

5 Amazing Facts About Holi

  1. Celebrated for many reasons

    The arrival of spring, the love of Radha and Krishna, and the death of Holika are all celebrated on Holi.

  2. Blue Krishna

    Krishna, who is blue in complexion, is often assumed to be the god of Holi due to his color— in actuality, his color comes from a poison he ingested.

  3. The 16-day festival

    In the Brag region in India, Holi is celebrated for 16 days.

  4. No water, no Holi

    Water is considered essential for Holi celebrations.

  5. Beware of “Bhang”

    The local Indian drink, popularly served during Holi, contains cannabis and may have after-effects if consumed too much.

Why Holika Dahana is Important

  1. We triumph over evil

    Holika Dayana celebrates the victory of good over evil. We love this!

  2. It is fun

    Can you feel the excitement whenever you watch Holi celebrations? It is a great time to let loose and have fun.

  3. It is colorful

    When the color splash begins, it's exciting to see different colors all over the place. The dance celebrations with outfits stained with colors are a sight for the eyes.

Holika Dahana dates

YearDateDay
2022March 17Thursday
2023March 7Tuesday
2024March 24Sunday
2025March 13Thursday
2026March 3Tuesday

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