Today was choti Holi. Today Hindu’s have a bonfire symbolic of Holika’s pyre. The story of today’s celebration is, one of our favourite, another victory of good over evil one.
Prahalada was a devout Vishnu follower. His father, Hiranyakashipu considered himself to be all powerful and demanded that everybody should pray to him. But Prahalada refused to pray to him and continued his prayer offerings to Vishnu. He ordered his sister, Holika to burn Prahalada. Holika had performed severe penance and gotten a boon from Lord Brahma that she would never get burnt by fire. Holika takes Prahlada on her lap and sits on a bonfire. Prahalada begins o pray to Lord Vishnu and it so happens that Prahalada remains untouched while Holika burns to her death. Thereby turning the bonfire into her funeral pyre.
Hindu’s have been burning to Holika’s pyre on the eve of Holi festival to celebrate this victory of good over evil. No scripture calls for this burning. Just like there is no written rule behind the burning of Ravan during Dussehra.
What I am trying to get to is that it is not mandatory to practice certain rituals and traditions if they don’t make sense anymore. Maybe we can have a small bonfire just to celebrate the festival and continue our long tradition. In this day and age where environment conservation is the need of the hour, we must take every possible step to curb unnecessary pollution. Starting from firecrackers to this bonfire.
In Delhi, different areas have unwritten competition amongst themselves on the size of their bonfire or the size of their ravan and for how long it burns. In the area where I live, each apartment complex has its own Holika bonfire and ravan during Dussehra and there are approximately 65 apartments.
This is the carnage in my apartment complex alone –
All of it chopped and burnt in the name of tradition and rituals. I am quite sure that no God will be offended if we don’t burn such a big bonfire. A similar one was burnt for Lohri as well.
I did not attend the Holika celebrations today because I can’t bear to stand there and watch the carcass of a glorious tree burn in the name of religion and tradition.
Who has seen Holika? It was really the funeral pyre of the tree and our beautiful mother nature.