Bonfire called ‘Holika Dahan’ takes place on the evening of Holi, so, this evening is called as the evening of bonfires. This day is also known by the name of ‘Choti Holi’. On the next day people play with colors and this day is called as dhulandi.  Tradition of ‘Holika Dahan’ is associated with the victory of good over evil and there are legends related to it.

History of Holika Dahan:

Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan

According to some Vedas and puranas, it is said that in Vedic time, bonfire of Holi was burnt for the destruction of demonic forces. Some people believe that Holikotsav got its name by fried cereals called ‘Holka’ in Sanskrit. These grains are used to perform hawana and it is believed that vibhti (ashes) from this hawana keeps the evils away from us. So, today also it is a tradition to wheat and oat into this bonfire.

Narad Purana tells a very famous legend behind the tradition of Holikotsav. The legend is about the victory of Prahlad who have defeated his father Hiranyakashyap and his aunt Holika. Prahlad was the follower of Lord Vishnu and that’s why on the order of king Hiranyakashyap, Holika tried to kill Prahlad by taking him into fire. Holika was gifted with a boon that fire could not burn her. But this time, with the blessings of Lord Vishnu, opposite happened. Prahlad came out of fire safely and Holika died in that fire. That’s why the bonfire is called as Holika.

One other legend given in ‘Bhavishya Purana’ tells that an ogress named Dhundhi was chased by the children of kingdom Raghu on the day of Holi. That’s why; this festival of Holika Dahan is very popular among children.


Holika dahan takes place on the night of Phalgun Purnima in a specific way. Before 40 days of Holi, on the day of Vasant Panchmi, a log of wood is kept in public place and people used to through dry leaves and branches on it till Holi day. In

this way this log becomes a big heap which is burnt on the Holi day. People collect ashes from the bonfire on the next day and apply it on the body.

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