Holika Dahan
Hindu devotees walk around a bonfire during a ritual known as Reuters

People are gearing up to celebrate the Hindu festival Holi that falls March 24 this year. The festival is rejoiced with great fervour and joy and it comes on the day after the full moon in early March every year to mark the beginning of spring. 

Known as the festival of colours, Holi also marks the victory of good over evil. A day before playing Holi with colours, Holika Dahan is celebrated. According to Hindu mythology, the term "Holi" has been derived from "Holika," evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashyap.

Considering himself a God, the king wanted everyone to worship him, but unfortunately, his own son Prahlad used to worship Lord Vishnu. In an effort to get rid of the little boy, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap.

Holika was known to have a cloak that could save her from getting burnt, as a result only Prahlad would get burnt. But the innocent boy's devotion to Lord Vishnu saved him, while Holika paid the price for her evil desire. Since then, the tradition of burning Holika or Holika Dahan is prevalent on the eve of the main festival.

In some parts of India, Holika Dahan is also known as "Chhoti Holi." People celebrate this occasion by offering water, turmeric, coconut and others things to a bonfire and seek blessings for a joyous life. 

Most of the time, Holika is burnt in the evening as per the muhurat (auspicious time). This year, Holika Dahan will be celebrated March 23 and the muhurat for dahan will start from 6:31 p.m. to 8:53 p.m. approximately.