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Why Do We Play Holi? What Does The Festival Mean?

One minute read. Written by a grade 6 student.

Holi is the celebration of good over evil. Like many of our festivals it also celebrates the beginning of spring and a good harvest and the end of winter.

By I Kid You Not , in Did You Know Festivals , at March 10, 2020 Tags: , , , , , ,

One minute read. Written by a grade 6 student.

Holi is the celebration of good over evil. Like many of our festivals it also celebrates the beginning of spring and a good harvest and the end of winter. Usually, it gets hot after Holi!

It starts on the evening of Purnima (that is a full moon). The first evening is known as Holika Dahan – when the bad Holika is burnt. And the next day is when we play Holi.

Who is Holika? Why Was She Burned? And what’s the connection with playing Holi?

Ok, so let’s hear the whole story and then it will be clear. This is how the story goes..

There was once a King, whose name was Hiranyakashipu (In Sanskrit Hiranya means gold and kashipu means soft cushion – so his name kind of means, clothed in gold, or wearing gold.) He liked wealth a lot and he was not a nice person.

So what happened was that King Hiranyakashipu had a blessing from Lord Brahma that made it almost impossible for him to be killed and also gave him special powers – he could not be killed by a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (rocket type weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or air. Because of these powers Hiranyakashipu became very arrogant and thought that he was God. He asked everyone to worship only him.

Now there was a problem, because Hiranyakashipu’s own son, called Prahlada, did not agree with this. He was a devotee of Lord Vishnu (Vishnu’s Avatar had earlier killed Hiranyakashipu’s brother). This made Hiranyakashipu very angry. He decided to punish Prahlada badly.

But none of the punishments affected Prahlada. Then Holika, who was Prahlada’s evil aunt, thought of a really horrible thing to do. She tricked him into sitting on a fire (pyre) with her.  She was wearing a cloak (like a shawl) that was fireproof – so she would not be burned, but Prahlada was not wearing that.

But then, when the fire started to burn, the cloak flew from Holika and wrapped Prahlada. So, he got saved and Holika burned. Then Vishnu took the form of Narasimha – which was a God who was half human and half lion (which is neither a human nor an animal), and came out at dusk (when it was neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water nor air), and then killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a missile-type weapon).

So, he killed Hiranyakashyapu even though he had special protection. He destroyed the evil king and that is why Holi is celebrated as a win of good over evil, and Holika is burned the night before.

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