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 -

Post a Comment


  1. happy holi..we also had a huge holika dahan in our apartments!!

  2. Good description of Holika Dahan.
    We should take every care for not destroying the trees and plants
    unnecessary and prevent to pollute the atmosphere.Holika Dehan may be
    celebrated keeping in mind all the positivity and remembering the
    profound devotion of Prahlaad
    in God,who proved the fact that
    spirit[aatma} can't be destroyed
    by fire or anything else.

    Thanks a lot Arti for a nice presentation.

    Wish a very very Happy Holi to you and all.

  3. Happy holi to you too and family.

    lovely pictures you have there thanks for sharing


  4. Its been so many years since I was part of Choti holi! holi itself is one of the few festivals i dont participate in, so when i was younger, we had holika dahan in our colony, and i would eagerly participate in that, knowing very well that i would locked up securely inside my house the next day!!! thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories!

  5. Gorgeous post yet again Arti. It made the festival come so alive.
    Hope you had a great Holi! :)

  6. It's an unique culture. There is a similar culture in Japan. In the New Years Day we fired the our previous charms in shirines and temples.

  7. Colorful pictures and beautiful narration. HAPPY HOLI to you, Arti!

  8. Nice to read your post on Holika Dahan.
    Wishing you & your family and all readers of your blog a very Happy Holi.

  9. As well as seeing the flames in my minds eye, I can also feel the heat and smell the incense. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post with us. Best wishes for a happy Holi to you and yours.

  10. What abeautiful festival - i love all about it and wish we had it here too! Happy Holi dear Arti - maybe i'll post about it too ;)

  11. Another fascinating post and wonderful captures, Arti! And once again I get to learn more about your wonderful country! Thank you for sharing! Have a beautiful weekend! Thank you for your kind words regarding my daughter!


  12. Happy Holi to u Arti, I miss all this ...its so nice to c ur pic and people celebrating holi:)

  13. It is nice to see tradition still alive in the way it was meant to be -- not just an empty ritual but with its significance in place and of course, heart. :)

  14. happy holi dear....thnaks for sharing the pics...I seriously miss holi sitting in US :-(

  15. Used to be an integral part of my childhood holi celebration .A big thanks to you for posting this .I just showed this post to my kids to make them understand holika dahan as it is not observed here in Assam .Next year we are planning to do it .
    Happy Weekend.

  16. Beautiful account of holi through pictures. Hope you enjoyed the festival...

  17. interesting ritual...

    thanks for sharing

  18. Happy holi wishes...

  19. Wow , nice . Happy holi to you and your family .

  20. Happy Holi, Arti! and have a wonderful weekend too. :)

  21. Happy Holi to you too. I'm sure the neighbourhood kids drenched everyone in gulal for a week.

  22. Interesting. Nice article.

  23. nice pics and good information....

  24. It's interesting ritual. We Japanese have rituals or festival with the fire. The fire is special meaning for prayers or us.
    Have a fabulous weekend!

  25. Heyyy Happy holi to you too! Holi is crazy right? Here is a crazy tag that I gave you-


  26. It's a fascinating tradition, and it does make sense as fire purifies everything! Greetings, DeeBee

  27. I really love the symbolism -- burning animosities and hatred and starting fresh. A very interesting and educational post and fun to look at as well!

  28. very cool ceremony... thanks for sharing!

  29. happy holi to you, i first heard about this from a friend, i am glad to learn more here from you.


  31. Beautiful bonfire! I see the fire nymphs dancing in the fire. Not only the fire but also the streaming light is fascinating in your photos, Arti. A ceremony related to fire has been conducted and will end in 15th here in Nara. Huge torches give forth the dancing and sparkling balls of fire. It is said spring is come when the ceremony is over. Have happy and peaceful days ahead.


  32. Hi,Arti.
    It is first time for me to know that sacred festival taken place on the full moon in your beautiful country. I can see how quietly the tradition goes on through your many photos.Thank you for sharing!
    Have a great week ahead.

  33. Hi Arti,

    I enjoyed hearing about your tradition of the festival Holi - such a wonderful time praying for peace, happiness and prosperity and a better future. It is what the whole world needs to do, instead of all the wars and unrest. Thank you for sharing and hope you have a lovely new week


  34. wonderful festival!
    was in Bedhaghat in MP during Holi, it is really a big fest there!

  35. Very informative Arti :) And yes, Its a victory of good over evil.. :)

    (Belated) Happy Holi :)

  36. Belated wishes for Holi, Arti! I missed reading as I was traveling. Lovely writing and pictures..

  37. Happy Holi Arti! Good work done!

  38. Traditional rituals or events involving fire are familiar here. Like stardust writes, here in Nara, we are having the torch fire ceremony, which has been held without interruption since 752.
    Like yours, it has aimed at purification, cleansing of previous sins and prayer for peace, welfare and good health of the people.
    Thank you for introducing this holy tradition.

  39. The kind of festival I want to attend upclose and personal someday. Thanks for sharing these stories and photographs, Arti. They are very enriching. Have a great week ahead.

  40. thank you so much for sharing....very insightful...I wish animosities,hatred and all negative emotions vanish completely...

  41. hi aarti

    belated happy holi , it is such a wonderful festival. I miss it here as in south it is not celebrated at all !! but anyway in life it is the spirit of holi that we have to live. You blog is one of the colors that fill my life with joy. I was also reading your earlier article about the tulasi plant and actually I moved into a new house and I have just planted a tulasi.I am going through the same excitement waiting for the plant to grow from the soil : ) Keep sharing your wonderful posts

  42. Good account of the rituals with live coverage. On the previous occasion I tried but the link was missing.

  43. wonderful pictures Arti...we also had a huge holika dahan in our colony.

  44. WOW! Thats a nice post! WE don’t celebrate choti holi in Punjab :)

    Catch me on Facebook:

  45. Hi :-) so nice to see that you used all scrap wood for the holika dahan. I am all for tradition but not the destruction of the environment in its guise. Do check out my post on Holika Dahan

  46. Happy Belated Holi Arti :) This is perhaps one of my favoritIST holidays in India! :)

  47. I love a good bonfire, Arti! Great photos. :)

  48. a good description of the rituals along with fantastic photographs... hope u had a great holi this time... belated wishes:)

  49. Wonderful captures by you :)
    I'm late here to read this post but happy I didn't missed it! :D

    Keep Exploring Arti dear :)
    My best wishes to you and your family...

  50. An article which tells the power of Indian festivals.

  51. My dear Arti
    I like so much the traditions!
    Your photos are wonderful!
    And light fires in Greece twice a year. It's custom.
    One is of St. John, lit small fires in their neighborhoods and jump over the fire for a blessing. And another great fire, put it at Easter, to burn the effigy of Judas.
    I thank you for the beautiful pictures you, learn the customs of your country!
    many greetings


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