This Festival of Holi... Birth A New YOU!

I survived because the fire inside burned brighter than the fire around me.
~ Joshua Graham.

23rd March 2016:

It’s a beautiful night… when the full moon of the Hindu calendar month Phalgun adorns the dark veil of the sky. It’s a special night too; in my part of the world India where a sacred fire will be ceremoniously ignited illuminating the environs. It is the first day of the Holi festival, the mighty famous festival of colors which is celebrated all across India and abroad in grand style. Called Holika Dahan, I will soon be joining a huge gathering of people in my society, uniting in faith, devotion and merry-making marking the celebrations of this interesting ritual.

I would be happy to have your wonderful company!
So, come along with me, my friend, if you like, let us celebrate this festival together...

Holi celebrations in India

A Photo Essay on the Ritual of Holika Dahan on the Choti Holi day (one day prior to Dhuleti/Dhulendi/Color Day/Dhuli Vandana) [Pictures From International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh, 2015]:

Spring is in the air infused with the unseen spirit of the occasion… of stripping away attachments, of putting a full stop on the pains of the past and on the anxieties concerning the future… of the joy of renewal. A new dawn awaits, piercing through the shafts of darkness that cloud, for all those who come braced with faith, conviction and devotion in healthy measure.

Lord Shiva in Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh

When I was younger, Holi used to be quite a family affair… a time when Holika Dahan was celebrated at my grandpa’s place. Traversing the distance between his house and the spot of the bonfire, with a long sieved spoon called jhariya in his hands, my grandpa would give a loud shout, Prahlad Bhagat ki Jai! I followed suit and so did the others in the family. I always did.

Remove your slippers and shoes, and step in the jamboree at this point here. The bonfire will be lit up in a few seconds from now. Let us take these moments to close our eyes and reflect on the significance of the ritual… For, this is not just a ritual, it is a stoic belief that has been held on through ages and passed onto us by our elders, ancestors and forefathers...

… By my grandparents.

Holika Dahan ceremony celebration on the festival of Holi

I saw them gather immense joy as they immersed themselves in the various activities relating to the ritual. Grandma would get busy making cow dung cakes and filled a good stock of new seasonal grains like wheat and barley for offerings to be made to the fire. Grandpa regaled us with yesteryear puranic (Sacred Hindu Text) stories in his own inimitable style that added a unique flavour to the revelry… As I climb the ladder of life today, facing the many questions that life continues to pose time and again, I realize how I can relate to these stories so much more. The echoes of my grandpa’s voice in my heart are truly endless.

The clock strikes 9 and logs of wood and old wooden furniture piled up in a bonfire are struck by flames. The fierce sparks begin emanating from the bonfire as if racing with the galloping time.

Holika Dahan ritual on the eve of Holi in India

Let us close our eyes for a moment here and take some moments to delve deep within. Let the warmth of the bonfire envelop our entire body like a creeper clinging to a vine. Let the heat enter gently deeper, invading the darkest corners in your heart, warming the center of your soul.

Feel the warmth!

Holika Dahan at Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

The sparks are flying high, let’s step out of our conditioned zones and spread the light of our awareness out in the Universe. Let’s get to that place where we have never been before!

Meet that one person, which you thought was ME till this date. Can you identify this person that you see? If yes, how? Is it by position, name, degree, fame, body… what among these impermanent and temporal things did you ignorantly attach your self to? Your little inner child to?

The fire of Holika Dahan on the eve of Holi in India

Step back for a moment; and replay your life picture on the screen of the mind…
can you see the events coming on display?

Someone abused you, your precious degree eluded you, your best friend betrayed you, your parents abandoned you, someone did something they should not have done to you? Feel the heat of all those emotions that are passing by you. Tap in those sensations, sensations… that, for long have clanged to your persona causing you great suffering in the heart and conflict in the mind.

Holika Dahan, Festival of Holi in India

The fire invites, seemingly maddening in her embryonic power;
yet deeply hallowed in her actions and intentions.

Holika Dahan celebrated on the eve of Holi in India

Separating the right from the wrong, the evil from the good – she is here to show you The Way. She did that for Prahlad, the staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu leaving the demoness Holika burnt and scarred for death many moons ago. Today, she wants to do the same for you. How would you decide to enter it as? As the brave and courageous Prahlad who chose his belief over ego or as Holika who chose power over righteousness?

Your choice is how she will treat you!

The fire of Holika Dahan on the eve of Holi in Rishikesh, India

Throw your anger, helplessness, fear and hate in the fire of Holika Dahan.
This is the golden time to leave the negative vices for now and ever.

Open your eyes, take a deep breath - do you feel lighter? The fire has consumed all that is impure, all that is negative leaving just the truth, the real and the sacred. The real creative you… a little bright child, shaped by the hands of the Supreme… so perfect, so unique, so full of love and purity as you always were, always meant to be…

The pure fire of Holika Dahan on the eve of Holi in India

Hug that child… Keep Her forever. She is love!

Fewer rituals than Holika Dahan serve as a beautiful reminder to make an effort and renew all that which is old. One of them being our own vehicular self that is inadvertently dented by various challenges in this journey of life. But no matter how dark the night, a new day is eventually born. It's a gradual transformation and after the transformation comes a new birth, a new you.

This Holi, participate in the ritual of Holika Dahan with all of your faith and sincerity, and allow it to be a catalyst for your transformational journey. Drop the guards that hold you and see your spirit unleash a wild dance in the fire of His love. Try it! You might just ignite something inside... that will never go out for life.

Post a Comment


  1. Arti, I enjoy hearing tales from when you were a child - what you remember and cherish from your grandparents. I hope my own grandchildren will hold such memories of me. To be renewed - that is a real blessing.

  2. Arti, Great post. Happy Holi to you and your family. Greetings.

  3. Feeling happy and holy, great article. :)

  4. Beautiful photos and lovely write up Arti!

  5. Nice learning about the rite related to holi! Beautiful carry away with words, wisdom and fire... wonderful photos from the yoga festival and bonfire. I love to be with my dear ones a night around the bonfire :)

  6. Your post brought back my childhood memories of holi :) beautifully captured :)

  7. Wow.. nice pics.. Lord Shiva and the fire..

  8. Great thoughts on the holika fire. Lovely ritual.

  9. beautiful pics and lovely description.

  10. Such a beautiful post. Loved the experience Arti! Thanks for making your readers a part of the ritual! :)

  11. Lovely pictures. We celebrated the same in our apartment, though it was a little modernized. Nonetheless was glad to be able to show the same to my daughter.

  12. I am flooded with my childhood memories reading your post :)
    Great pictures!
    A very Happy Holi to you!

  13. The post reminded me of the Holi of my childhood, and my grandma who told me tales of Prahlad.
    A great post, Arti.

  14. The depiction of a religious ritual at deeper level with personal touch rekindling self introspection, I was engaged till the end.

  15. Loved the pics which became more special with Shivji in the backdrop!

  16. It must have been a different experience I believe. I never seen one like this... but I remember playing Holi during the young days. Not recently. The photos look so beautiful. Lovely..

    The Solitary Writer

  17. Such a beautiful post. You took me back to my childhood days. But this one has certainly a different feel.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. I have much the same memories of the Holika dahan, but you cast a magic spell with the word flow, Arti!

  19. The age-old tradition along with your childhood memories and some profound thoughts ...the post is just a wonderful read... :-)

  20. There's so much to learn and get to know! I had heard of it but didn't know about it much...Beautiful read Arti! Informative and engaging! :)
    Hope you and yours had a good time :)

  21. Those pictures of the bonfire, took me back to my childhood days when we had these bonfires in our campus. We all used to help in whatever way possible.

  22. beautiful pictures
    thanks for sharing this.

  23. those pictures of holika dahan bring me in flash back in childhood days in which how we celebrate holika dahan.
    thanks for sharing these pics.

  24. festival of holi fill oneself with joy.
    thanks for sharing.

  25. This is the first time I am reading a post from you and I am really amazed and motivated by your travel stories. This is one of the most detailed post about Indian festival I have come across. I am looking forward to read more from you.


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