Showing posts with label Holi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holi. Show all posts

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Sacred Fire of Holika Dahan: Choti Holi

A Photo Essay on the Ritual of Holika Dahan on the Choti Holi day (one day prior to Dhuleti/Dhulendi/Color Day/Dhuli Vandana) :-

8 March 2012:

On the Phalgun Purnima or the full moon night of the Hindu calendar month of Phalgun,

Phalgun Purnima full Moon - Chotti Holi

A bonfire is made up of dried leaves, logs of wood, old wooden furniture, cardboard and other combustible material piled up in a heap.

Collected Heap of twigs, leaves and branches for Holika Dahan
Holika Dahan Bonfire lit up on Choti Holi

People of the society and nearby areas come together to be a part of the tradition. Somewhere at around 9 PM in the dark of the night, the bonfire is ceremoniously ignited brightly illuminating the entire arena.

Holika Dahan Bonfire completely lit up on the festival of Holi
Holika Dahan bonfire

Incense sticks and oil lamps are lighted, offerings of new seasonal grains like wheat and barley are made.

People Praying to the Holika Dahan bonfire

The fire, an image of success of good over evil, is then circumambulated three times with slow pouring of water from a container.

Offering water to the to the Holika Dahan bonfire on Choti Holi

Prayers for peace, happiness, prosperity and a better future are made.

People Praying to the Holika Dahan bonfire on Choti Diwali

Past animosities are buried; hatred and anger give way to new hopes, wishes and aspirations. It's a silent tranquil time... time to reflect and delve deep... within..

Reflections over Holika Dahan

Sacred ash and coconuts are collected as prasad marking the culmination of an age old tradition – Holika Dahan;

Taking of coconut prasad from the Holika Dahan bonfire

... the holiness from the billowing fumes continue to linger around till the next festival year.

Coconut prasad from the Holika Dahan bonfire

--- HAPPY HOLI ---

If you wish to read more on the festival of colors - Holi in detail, kindly check out this link -

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Holi... The Colors of the Holy fire, Holika Dahan

HAPPY HOLI

Dhuleti/ Dhulendi/ Dhuli Vandana

One of the most awaited festivals – The festival of color, HOLI - is finally here! This is the last festival of the Hindu calendar before New Year arrives on Gudi Padwa (April 4th).

Trees have begun to smile with their sprout of tender leaves and budding flowers. People are out on the streets shrouded in a mist of blues, reds and greens, powders of all possible colors rejoicing this renewal of nature, the arrival of spring, celebrating all good things in life, celebrating the very spirit of life!


Radha Krishna playing the colorful festival of Holi
(Image courtesy Google Images)
In a bid to bridge the complexion gap, 
a very innocent but naughty Krishna (dark-hued), 
acting on his mother Yashoda’s advice, 
had drenched His beloved Radha (fair-hued) in color and water!
This slowly evolved into the festival of Holi and 
continues to mask all boundaries of class, caste, age and gender till date!

Colorful Latmar Holi played in Mathura
(Image courtesy Reuters)
It doesn’t matter if you are black or white; 
the splash of colors makes everything bright!

There’s more to the festival however…

Holika Dahan

A traditional ancient ritual that takes place on the full moon night of Phalgun Purnima, one day prior to the bigger event of color the next day;
Holika Dahan is marked by the lighting of bonfires at temples, housing societies and localities all across the country.

Several stories are associated with the ritual but the one that i have grown up hearing is that of Prahlad, the 5 year old braveheart and
a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, who defied his father's wishes, the demon king Hiranyakashipu (who self proclaimed himself as God) and worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. So strong was his faith that His Master will protect him that he even agreed to sit on the burning fire with his aunt Holika who was blessed with a boon that fire could never harm her.

What happened then left everybody amazed! Holika was burnt to death while Prahlad who had been continuously chanting Lord Vishnus name escaped unharmed! Thus, even today this tradition is carried out in admiration of the strong devotion of Bhagat Prahlad, the bonfires are lighted as a symbolic burning of the demon Holika.

Holika Dahan during the Holi festival in India
Logs of wood, dried twigs, leaves and branches are collected
and bonfires are made out of them

Full moon night of phalgun poornima on the night of Holi
When night falls, people start gathering…
And In the twilight of the full moon…

Today was also the rare phenomenon of "Super Moon"

The Bonfire a symbol of burining of Holika the demon during Holi in India
The bonfire comes alive!

Lamps are light during the Holika Dahan in the Holi festival in India
Lamps are lit...

People praying to the Holika Dahan fire during the Holi festival in India

Oat grains, coconut, flowers and water are offered to the fire God (AgniDev)
and prayers for a bountiful year ahead.

People offering coconut, water and other items in the bonfire during the Holi festival in India
People circumabulating the Holika Dahan fire during the Holi festival in India
The fire is then circumambulated with an oath 
to make new beginnings and by letting bygones be bygones...

Prasad of coconuts is taken back during the Holika Dahan in the Holi festival in India
The ashes left in the fire are considered sacred, collected and taken back home as Prasad. The fanning of the smoke emanating from it is spread in the house and
is considered to bring prosperity and good will to the family.

A Bonfire during the Holika Dahan ritual during the Holi festival in India

The ritual not only reestablishes the conviction of people in the ultimate divine power but also serves as a reminder that good always triumphs over evil no matter how difficult the circumstances seem to be and that we should never veer off the right path.


Festival of colors, Holi
Let this Holi be a time when we change not only the colour of our faces, but the colour of our hearts. Let us not only play Holi, but let us become holy. Let the only colour that truly penetrates our beings, be the colour of God.
Swami Chidananda Saraswati

Today is Dhuleti and this post comes amidst all the vibrant fun and frolic, singing and merrymaking that's happening right now in many parts all over the country! Though i do not play holi as it is a bit too wild for my liking but i do enjoy being with family, feasting on the delicious sweets like gujiya and thandai, the joyful festive mood thats palpable in the air and taking part in the festivities the night before (Holika Dahan)!

Is Holi celebrated in your part of the country? If yes, how do you celebrate it and what are the rituals you observe in your culture?
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