Holika dahan also known by the name Kamudu Fire refers to the name of the pyre burnt on Choti Holi celebrations, during the night occurring just before Holi. This practice is famous in North India, Nepal and some other parts of India. This ritual symbolizes the victory of good over the evil and is attended by all people who gather around the fire forgetting their differences. They beat drums, dance and sing in ecstasy making the most of the full moon night of the Falgun month (February – March).
Preparations for Holika Dahan
From several days before the event, people gather wood and combustible materials for the bonfire. Usually, Holika Dahan happens at the back or front yards of homes, temples, community centers, parks and other public places. On top of the bonfire an effigy of a devil called as Holika is placed. The effigy is made of combustible materials and the image of little child Prahlad, the devotee of Lord Vishnu is made of non-combustible material, when the bonfire blazes, the effigy of Holika is burnt away leaving the image of Prahlad unscathed.
The story behind Holika Dahan
Once there lived a demon called Hiranyakasipu, who had a son named Prahlad. Hiranyakasipu hated Prahlad since the child was devoted to Lord Vishnu. Hence, Hiranyakasipu made several attempts to kill the boy. During one such attempts, he ordered his sister Holika to enter a fire carrying Prahlad so that the boy is burnt away. Earlier, Holika had a boon that fire will not burn her. Nevertheless, when Holika entered the fire this time with a bad intention, she was burnt to ashes and due to the grace of Lord Vishnu, the little boy Prahlad was saved.