Holika Dahan (Demoness Holika effigy burning) is an important ritual in Hindu culture when celebrating Holi. It is celebrated on the full moon night of the Falgun month (the 12th month of the Hindu Calendar), the night before Holi. Holika Dahan is also called Choti Holi. It mainly celebrates the killing of the demoness 'Holika' by Lord Vishnu.
In 2023, Holika Dahan will be celebrated on March 7th. It is an optional public holiday in India. Employees can choose to take a half day or full day off of work. Schools, banks, government and private offices, and businesses remain open and functional.
- Holika Dahan Muhurat: 06:24 PM to 08:51 PM on March 7th
- Bhadra Punchha: 12:43 AM to 02:01 AM on March 7th
- Bhadra Mukha: 02:01 AM to 04:11 AM on March 7th
- Purnima Tithi: 04:17 PM on March 6th to 06:09 PM on March 7th — full moon lunar day
The Rules for Deciding the Holika Dahan Muhurat
Muhurat means ‘auspicious time’ in Hindi. For Hindus, finding out the Holika Dahan Muhurat is a most important thing. Doing puja (worship) at a Muhurat time is believed to bring the best puja benefits, while doing Holika burning at the wrong time is thought to bring pain and misfortune.
When we calculate a Muhurat that is used for any auspicious activity in India, Bhadra is very important. It refers to a goddess constellation (the goddess Bhadra appears in various forms in Hindu mythology). It is a particular astrological period of the day, which is further subdivided into Punchha (‘Tail’) and Mukha (‘Face’).
Bhadra Mukha (the goddess ‘Bhadra’s face') refers to a latter part of the constellation. Holika Dahan cannot be performed during the Bhadra Mukha period, which is inauspicious.
Instead, Bhadra Punchha (‘Bhadra’s tail', an earlier part of the constellation) is considered more auspicious to carry out burning tasks.
The rules to calculate Holika Dahan Muhurat are as follows:
- The first and the most important rule is Holika Dahan Muhurat should be made during/after Pradosh (the first part of the night after sunset) during Purnima Tithi (the ‘full moon lunar day’).
- If Bhadra is prevalent during Pradosh and ends before midnight, Holika Dahan should be observed (in the prescribed period of about an hour) after Bhadra is over.
- If Bhadra occurs between Pradosh and midnight and finishes after midnight then Holika Dahan should be done in Bhadra Punchha.
- If Bhadra Punchha occurs before Pradosh or after midnight. Holika Dahan puja should be done during Pradosh.
Holika Dahan Story
The name Holi comes from the legend behind the holiday in which the demoness Holika was sent by King Kiranyakashipu to kill his son Prahlad. Holika tried to trick Prahlada into burning to death on a pyre, but because her intentions were evil, she was the one who was burned and killed.
Legend says that through penance the demon king Hiranyakashipu was granted five magical powers of protection, which he believed would combine to make him immortal. Holding firm in this belief, he forced his subjects to worship him as a god. However, his son Prahlad refused to do so and instead stayed true to his adoration of the genuine god Vishnu. Acting out of spite, Hiranyakashipu attempted many times to kill his son but was always bested by Vishnu.
During one of these such attempts, Hiranyakashipu conspired with his demoness sister Holika and developed a plan to kill Prahlad. Holika had a special cloak that protected her from fire, and she planned to bring Prahlad into the fire with her, then remove the cloak and expose Prahlad to the flames. However, her plan failed and the cloak flew from Holika to Prahlad, thus protecting the righteous son and leaving the evil Holika to burn in the flames.
Therefore, people hold the Holika Dahan every year to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Read more about the stories of Holi >>>
Holika Dahan Puja Samagri (Ritual Materials List)
Preparation for Holika Dahan Puja can start up to a month in advance. The following items are required:
- One bowl of cow dung water or holy water from the Ganges
- Wood and cow dung cakes for the pyre
- Holika and Prahlada idols made of cow dung
- Akshat (undamaged rice)
- Beads made of cow dung
- Roli (red powder used in ceremonies)
- A shield and other toys made of cow dung
- A brown coconut
- Agarbatti and doop (incense sticks and copper cup for burning it in)
- Deepa (oil lamp)
- Cotton thread
- Turmeric pieces
- Unbroken lentils or certain beans (moong)
- Gulal (brightly colored powder used in festivals)
- Batasha (aerated sugar cakes, like meringues) or other sweets
- Fully-grown crops like fully-grown wheat and grains
Holika Puja Vidhi (Worship Method) and Mantras
We have listed 18 steps for the Holika puja as below. If you cannot chant below mantras, you can chant it in your own language according to the main meaning.
3 Steps Before Holika Puja
Step 1: Use cow dung water or holy water from the Ganges to clean the place where you intend to perform the Holika Dahan rituals. It is suggested to set it in an open field or on open ground for safety.
Step 2: Make a triangular pyre of wood and cow dung cakes, and place the idols of Prahlad and Holika on the top of the heap and then decorate the Holika pyre with the shields, toys, and other symbolic objects.
Step 3: Before starting the puja, take a bath according to the scriptures and get ready by wearing clean clothes.
12 Steps During Puja
Step 1: While doing worship, you should face east or north.
Step 2: When the auspicious time of Holika Dahan arrives, sprinkle drops of water on your surroundings, the puja thali (ritual plate), and yourself.
Step 3: Light a deepa (oil lamp) and invoke Lord Vishnu’s purification and seek blessings by chanting the following Mantra:
- ऊँऊँ पुण्डरीकाक्ष: पुनातु।
- Oh oh Lotus-Like Eyes (i.e. Vishnu): purify.
Step 4: Then take the water, rice, flowers, and some money in your right hand and make a sankalp (a verbal dedication including the Hindu date, place of worship, the worshiper’s family surname and given name, the purpose of the puja, and to whom the puja is offered).
- ऊँ विष्णु: विष्णु: विष्णु: श्रीमद्भगवतो महापुरुषस्य विष्णोराज्ञया अद्य दिवसे ________ (संवत्सर का नाम लें e.g. विश्वावसु) नाम संवत्सरे संवत् ________ (e.g. 2069) फाल्गुन मासे शुभे शुक्लपक्षे पूर्णिमायां शुभ तिथि ________ (e.g. मंगलवासरे) ________ गौत्र (अपने गौत्र का नाम लें) उत्पन्ना ________ (अपने नाम का उच्चारण करें) मम इह जन्मनि जन्मान्तरे वा सर्वपापक्षयपूर्वक दीर्घायुविपुलधनधान्यं शत्रुपराजय मम् दैहिक दैविक भौतिक त्रिविध ताप निवृत्यर्थं सदभीष्टसिद्धयर्थे प्रह्लादनृसिंहहोली इत्यादीनां पूजनमहं करिष्यामि।
- Om Vishnu, Vishnu, Vishnu: the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita’s Great One, in the age of these days ________ (name the year e.g. Vishwavasu [name of a celestial musician god]) in the samvat (Hindu era) of ________ (e.g. 2069) in the Phalgun (12th Hindu month) month Shubhe (daylight) Shukla Paksha (waxing moon period) Poornima (full moon period) auspicious date ________ (e.g. Mangalwar [Tuesday]), ________ gotra [clan] (name your clan) born ________ (pronounce your name), born of Shiva, the eternal father, who defeated the enemy uncle after the divine cloak of heat protection favored the success of Prahlad Narsingh [4th incarnation of Vishnu] over Holika etc. [referring tothe Hindu legend of Prahlad’s defeat of demoness Holika, makes this puja dedicated to Krishna.
Step 5: A Holika Dahan puja starts with worshiping Lord Ganesha (the elephant-headed god) for prosperity, good fortune, and wisdom. While reciting the mantras, apply roli (red powder) and rice to a flower and offer it along with incense.
The Lord Ganesha Mantra:
- गजाननं भूतगणादिसेवितं कपित्थजम्बूफलचारुभक्षणम्।
उमासुतं शोकविनाशकारकं नमामि विघ्नेश्वरपादपमजम्॥
ऊँ गं गणपतये नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।
- Om Ganesh [I] bow [to you]: Panchopchararthe (the items for worship) gand Akshat pushpani (water, undamaged rice, flowers) Samarpayami (dedication).
Step 6: Continues with prayers to Goddess Ambika (Mother of the Universe). While reciting the mantras, apply roli (red powder) and rice to a flower and offer it along with incense to Goddess Ambika.
The Goddess Ambika Mantra:
- ऊँ अम्बिकायै नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि सर्मपयामि।
- Om Ambika, I bow to you: these items for worship — water, undamaged rice, flowers — are hereby dedicated.
Step 7: Then remember Lord Narasimha (avatar of Vishnu) who destroy evil and end religious persecution and calamity. While reciting the mantras, apply roli (red powder) and rice to a flower and offer it along with incense.
The Lord Narasimha Mantra:
- ऊँ नृसिंहाय नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।
- Om Narasimha, I bow to you: these items for worship — water, undamaged rice, flowers — are hereby dedicated.
Step 8: Finally do devotions to Prahlad. While reciting the mantras, apply roli (red powder) and rice to a flower and offer it along with incense.
The Prahlad Mantra:
- ऊँ प्रह्लादाय नम: पंचोपचारार्थे गंधाक्षतपुष्पाणि समर्पयामि।
- Om Prahlad, I bow to you: these items for worship — water, undamaged rice, flowers — are hereby dedicated.
Step 9: After seeking the blessings of the gods, remove the idol of Prahlad from the pyre, which symbolizes how Lord Vishnu's blessings saved Prahlad from the fire while Holika was burnt into ashes.
Step 10: Four beads of cow dung are kept safe before bonfire. One is kept safe in the name of the worshiper’s ancestors, the second in the name of the god Hanuman(the monkey god), the third in name of Goddess Sheetala(an incarnation of Supreme Goddess Parvati credited with curing illnesses), and the fourth in the name of the worshiper’s family.
Step 11: After lighting the bonfire and the idol of Holika, the following are offered: flowers, doop and agarbatti (the copper cup with incense), Akshat (undamaged rice), cotton thread, moong (bean) daal, sweets or batasha (ceremonial sugar cakes), coconut, gulal (brightly colored powder), and water. Then with hands folded, the worshiper prays to Holika for happiness and prosperity of the family.
The Holika Mantra:
- असृक्पाभयसंत्रस्तै: कृता त्वं होलि बालिशै:
अतस्त्वां पूजयिष्यामि भूते भूतिप्रदा भव:॥
- In terrible fear, honoring you Holika anxiously:this worship is performed to your ghost that you bestow well-being/happiness/prosperity.
Step 12: Prayers are concluded by circumambulating the bonfire three, five, or seven times and then emptying the water bottle when the last circuit is complete.
3 Steps After the Puja:
Step 1: After the Holika Dahan rituals are done. Tilak (colored powder or paste) is applied to the foreheads of men, women sing songs, and blessings are received from elders.
Step 2: Roast crops, like fully grown wheat and grains, are eaten, as it is believed that eating baked crop keeps away disease.
Step 3: Remember to bring a little bit of Holi ash home with you, as using the Holi ash to make breakfast, tea, etc. is considered auspicious.
Holika Dahan Dates and Muhurat from 2022 to 2030
Holika Dahan is celebrated on the Purnima night (full moon night) in the month of Phalguna (the 12th Hindu calendar month), which usually falls in March or April.
|Year||Holika Dahan Date||Holika Dahan Muhurat|
|2022||Thursday, 17th of March||21:06 to 22:16|
|2023||Tuesday, 7th of March||18:24 to 20:51|
|2024||Sunday, 24th of March||23:13 to 00:27, March 25|
|2025||Thursday, 13th of March||23:26 to 00:30, March 14|
|2026||Tuesday, 3rd of March||18:22 to 20:50|
|2027||Sunday, 21st of March||18:33 to 20:55|
|2028||Friday, 10th of March||18:27 to 20:52|
|2029||Wednesday, 28th of February||18:20 to 20:49|
|2030||Tuesday, 19th of March||18:32 to 20:54|
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