The eve of Holi is celebrated by burning of pyres that symbolizes Holika, the devil. The day celebrates the killing of the demoness by Lord Vishnu to save his devotee Prahlad. This is where the festival gets its name from. The day falls on the full moon day during the Hindu month of Phalguna which coincides with February or March according to the Gregorian calendar. Holika Dahan is also known as Choti Holi or Holika Deepak. The fire burnt on the eve of Holi signifies the victory of good over evil, happiness over grief and end of the winter season. The pyre is lit after sunset and people sing and dance around the fire. In 2019, Holika Dahan will be celebrated on March 20 and Holi (Rangwali or Rang Panchami) on March 21.
The deities of Holi are demoness Holika and Lord Vishnu’s devotee Prahlada. If you are wondering why a demoness is worshiped during the festival then Drik Panchang has the answer. According to the calendar, ‘In the beginning, Holika was protective as she was created to ward off all fears. She was a symbol of power, wealth and prosperity and could bestow those to her worshippers. However, she became harmful and fearsome when she tried to immolate devotee Prahalad. Hence Holika was burnt to ward off any further trouble’.
Once there was a powerful demon king named Hiranyakashipu who was granted a boon by Lord Brahma. His son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu insisted that only he be worshipped and would kill anyone who disobeys him. His son continued to worship Lord Vishnu. This made him furious and he decided to kill his own son. He took the help of his sister Holika – who had a garment that prevented her from being harmed by fire. Holika sat on a bonfire and tricked Pralhad to sit on her lap. As the fire roared, the magical garment covered Prahlad. This led to the death of Holika and Prahlad came out unharmed. The story is about the power of devotion and the victory of good over evil. Since then the tradition to celebrate the festival began and this is where the festival gets its name.
Holika Dahan muhurta: March 20 at 8:58 pm to 9:10 pm
Purnima tithi begins on March 20 at 10:44 am
Purnima tithi ends on March 21 at 7:12 am