Every festival in India is celebrated with pomp and fervour; one of the most popular festivals celebrated with equal enthusiasm by youth and elders alike is the festival of colours – Holi. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil and is celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. It falls in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which is February or March according to Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Choti Holi or Holika Dahan when the Holika pyre is burnt. There is also a tradition of exchanging sweets. The next day is celebrated with colours and is known as Rang Panchami, Dhulandi or Ranwali Holi. In 2018, Choti Holi falls on March 1 and Holi falls on March 2.
Here’s how to perform Holi puja:
- The Holi Puja is performed on Choti Holi on or after sunset. It is the day when Holika was burnt into ashes signifying the burning of all things bad.
- The spot of the bonfire is washed with water and smeared with cow dung and Ganga water is sprinkled.
- A wooden pole is erected at the centre and surrounded with wooden sticks, cow dung, twigs, dried leaves, and branches.
- In some places, the effigies of Halika and Prahlad are placed on the heap of woods. Holika’s effigy is made with combustible material while Prahlad’s is made of non-combustible material.
- The bonfire is adorned with garlands of flowers and batasha. Rangolis are prepared around it. Incense sticks, flowers, fruits, vermillion, turmeric, gulal powder, and batasha are used in the puja.
- People offer coconut, fruits, chant mantras and seek blessings from Lord Vishnu. The raw yarn is tied around the bonfire while circumambulating it. Water is poured around the Holika pile.
- The bonfire is set on fire and people chant Rakshoghna Mantras to cast away the evil spirits.
- Coconuts are placed inside the bonfire and the roasted coconut is later distributed as prasad. The next day, the ashes are collected and are smeared on the limbs as it is considered holy.