Holi is a very popular festival in India, especially the northern belt. The folklore behind the celebration of this festival is the same everywhere.

By Anshul Pandey

Every Indian festival has its own folklore, rituals and wisdom. These three are so closely related that they seem to be one and the same, just like conjoined twins. Holi is a very popular festival in India, especially the northern belt. The folklore behind the celebration of this festival is the same everywhere. There are many versions of the story where Holika is concerned. Somewhere she is depicted as Prahlad’s paternal aunt, somewhere she is depicted as Dalit (Political Propaganda) or somewhere she is a Demoness. But nobody knows exactly the source of any of these stories, just google gyan. None of the stories are mentioned in our ancient scriptures, ie Shruti, Smriti, Itihaasa or Puranas. There’s a story about Holi, but you haven’t heard it until now. There are two mentions of Holi. One in Bhavishya Puran and the other in Garg Sanhita. But the story of these stories doesn’t match the story we’ve heard. So people chose the story that fits their political or social agenda. Of the two main characters of Prahlad and Holika, Prahlad is the positive thinking process while Holika is mixed with many negative qualities so that she is full of all negative vices. These appear to be imagination and are not mentioned anywhere in the scriptures.

In Bhavishya Purana (Uttar Parva, Chapter 132), Yudhishthir asks Krishna a question about what festival is celebrated in the month of Phalgun where children make so many unnecessary noises and what is Adada/Holika/Dhondha and which Devta is worshipped.

Krishna told a story from Satyug to answer the above questions. There lived a very benevolent and generous king named Raghu. All his subjects lived happily and satisfactorily in his Kingdom. Everything went very smoothly. But one day people gathered in front of the palace doors to complain about something that harmed them. The frightened people told stories of children being killed by Demoness named Dhonda (aka Holika).

The king summoned the Royal Sage Vashisht ji to investigate the matters thoroughly. So Vashishth ji explained that Dhondha is the daughter of a demon named Mali. Dhondha worshiped Shiva for a very long time and got a blessing from Shiva that neither Devta nor Demon nor Man could kill her and that there is no reason for her to be afraid day or night or that none of the main seasons would affect her . Shiva bestowed the blessing on her on the condition that only naughty and excited children could frighten her. From then on, this Dhonda Demoness came and harassed children and others. She only became silent after chanting the Adada mantra.

Vashishth then told the king about the ritual of getting rid of Dhonda. According to Vashishth ji, on Phalgun’s Purnima day in Shukla paksha, all people should be active and jump for joy, dancing around. Boys have to wield a wooden sword and run around like soldiers screaming and enjoying. One should collect dry wood pieces, cow dung cakes and grass and stack them on top of each other and burn them or Dahan. Everyone has to clap loudly and boys with wooden sticks have to go around the fire three times to scare Dhondha.

So the king himself followed this ritual and ordered all his subjects to follow it. On this day, Pandits perform Vasordhara Yagya, which is why it is also called Holika. Small children should be protected on this day. Apply cow dung paste to the floor, summon young children with wooden swords and touch it. Offer the children sweets.

Get up early the next morning and offer Tarpan to Pitras. Bring the Ash from the previous night’s Holika and smear it on your body. Prepare a place of decorations for the Devtas. Married ladies dressed in all their finery should adore this place. Offer milk, curd, flowers, frankincense along with performing the Vasordhara Yagya. Eat the prasad from the previous day along with the food.

There is a mention of Bhagwan Krishna playing Holi with Gopis and Radha in Garg Sanhita. There is only talk of Radha putting Kajal in Krishna’s eye and Krishna giving her a brand new dupatta. The book also mentions that people play with colors extracted from natural flowers (this is mentioned in Garg Sangita’s Madhurya Khand). But there is no mention of a woman being burned on the heap of wood and cow dung cakes. Have faith in your scriptures and do not believe in imaginary stories.

(The writer of the above article is a columnist and author. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

This post Holika Dahan: Myths associated with Holi – the festival of colors

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