Holika Dahan or Choti Holi 2016 – Tradition and Timings for this year

Holika Dahan 2017: The Evening of Bonfires


  • Holika Dahan or the lighting of bonfire takes place on the eve of Holi.
  • The day is also popularly called ‘Chhoti Holi’ or the ‘Small Holi’.
  • The bigger event – play with the colour takes place on the next ‘big’ day.
  • Holika Dahan is an extremely popular tradition and is celebrated with fervour all across the country and is symbolic of triumph of good over evil.
  • There are numerous legends associated with this ancient tradition and it is difficult to pin-point as to when actually the tradition started.

A Brief History of Holika Dahan

  • Holikotsav finds a mention in the Vedas and Puranas.
  • It is stated that during the Vedic period the sacred fire of Holi was burnt amidst the chanting of specific mantras which were intended for the destruction of the demonic forces.
  • It is also said that on this very day Vaishwadev oblation commenced in which offerings of wheat, gram and oat were made to the sacrificial fire.
  • Some scholars believe that Holikotsav is named after fried cereals or parched grains called ‘Holka’ in Sanskrit.
  • These parched grains were used to perform hawana (a fire ritual).
  • The vibhuti (sacred ashes) obtained from this ritual was smeared on the forehead of those who participated in the ritual to keep away evil.
  • This vibhuti is called Bhumi Hari.
  • Till date there is a tradition of offering wheat and oat into the Holika fire.


  • According to Narad Purana, this day is celebrated in the memory of Prahlad’s victory and the defeat of his aunt ‘Holika’.
  • The legend has it that there once existed a mighty demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who wished that everybody in his kingdom should worship him.
  • His son, Prahlad became a follower of Lord Naarayana.
  • Hiranyakashyap instructed his sister, Holika to sit in the burning fire with Prahlad in lap. She was blessed with a boon, as a result of which no fire could burn her.
  • But the opposite happened, Prahlad survived and Holika was charred to death.
  • Thus ‘holi’ is celebrated to commemorate the victory of virtue over evil.
  • It is because of this event, Holika (a bonfire) is burnt every year on Holi.
  • The burning of the effigy of Holika is called Holika Dahan.

The Tradition of Holika Dahan


  • There is also a specific way in which Holika Dahan takes place.
  • A log of wood is kept in a prominent public place on the Vasant Panchami day, almost 40 days before the Holi Festival.
  • People go on throwing twigs, dried leaves, branches of trees left through the winter besides any other combustible material they can spare, on to that log which gradually grows into a sizable heap.
  • On the day of Holika Dahan an effigy of Holika with child Prahlad in her lap is kept on the logs.
  • Usually, Holika’s effigy is made of combustible materials, whereas, Prahlad’s effigy is made of non-combustible one.
  • On the night of Phalguna Purnima, it is set alight amidst the chanting of Rakshoghna Mantras of the Rig Veda to ward off all evil spirits.
  • Next morning the ashes from the bonfire are collected as prasad and smeared on the limbs of the body.
  • If spared by the fire coconuts are also collected and eaten.
  • Metaphorically though, the fire is meant to signify the destruction of evil – the burning of the ‘Holika’ – a mythological character and the triumph of good as symbolised by Prahlad.
  • However, the heat from the fire also depicts that winter is behind and the hot summer days are ahead.
    Next day after Holika Dahan  [24th March] is called Dhuleti, when play with colours actually takes place.

Holika Dahan 2017 Muhurta [23rd March]

Holika Dahan Muhurta = 18:30 to 20:53
Duration = 2 Hours 22 Mins
Bhadra Punchha =  23:45 to 01:04
Bhadra Mukha = 01:04 to 03:15