This is the story of the festival of Holi.
Symbolism is a very important part of Indian festivals. The festival of Holi is not different. These bright colours are the opposite of darkness. And with painting people’s faces, one believes to replace darkness with these colours in one’s heart as well. Their faces are painted red, green, yellow, and blue, and their mind is joyful, forgiving, rejuvenated, and spiritful.
The festival of colours has been celebrated from the time before the written history of India goes. And for so long, one story has been associated with it as well. The story which gives it its name ‘Holi’. The story of Holika and Prahlada.
This story starts with the father of Prahlad, Hirankashyap. A demon king who believed he was above even Gods. He had asked Brahma for a boon of invincibility. He could not be killed in day or night, on land or sky, by man or animal, by weapons or by spells. Once he was granted this boon, he started spreading evil on earth without fear of any God.
Everything was going as he planned, till the date his son was born. His son Prahlad turned out to be an advent devotee of God Vishnu. Hirankshyap kept telling Prahlad that his own father was stronger than Vishnu. But Prahlad had his mind clear. He kept chanting the name Vishnu throughout the palace of Hirankashyap.
This irked Hirankshyad to such an extent that he planned to kill his own son. And he chose his sister Holika for this job. Holika, the demoness, was also gifted a boon from Brahma. She had asked Brahma to make her immune to fire.
Hirankshyap had tried many ways to kill Prahlad and failed. But this time he was sure.
Holika set on a pyre of wood that was soaked in oil. She asked her nephew Prahlad to come and sit on her lap. Prahlad, being innocent of her heinous intention did as asked. Once Prahlad was on her lap she lit the pit on fire. But unbeknown to her Brahma’s boon only worked if she was alone in the fire. She got trapped in her own trapped and died. On the other hand, Prahlad started chanting Vishnu’s name when he saw the fire. Hence he was saved from the wrath of fire.
This story depicts the victory of good over evil. This morality of differentiating between good and evil is what makes us human. Hence this gift is celebrated by remembering this story a night before Holi. A bonfire is created resembling the pyre of Holika. And people worship the fire that destroyed the evil and protected the good.