The Story of Holi

Holika with Bhakta Prahlad

There was once a demon king called Hiranyakaship, which means “dressed in gold”.  He had won all the three worlds of heaven, earth and hell and had thus, become very proud. He assumed that he could defeat even the God with his valor. He went to the extent that he had enforced a law that everybody would worship him instead of The God.The King has a son, Prahlad, who refused to worship his father, but instead worshipped the great god Vishnu.  Prahlad’s devotion to Vishnu sent the King into a rage and he decided to have the boy killed because he would not change his ways.  The King ordered an army to cut Prahlad to pieces with their razor sharp swords.  As the soldiers advanced, Prahlad called “Vishnu, Vishnu” and the soldiers lost their strength and were unable to kill the body.  Next, the King had Prahlad thrown into a pit of loathsome, poisonous snakes.  Again the boy called the name of Vishnu and the snakes did him no harm.  The King tried many other ways to get rid of the boy, once by trying to drown him in the sea and another time by having him trampled to death by a herd of giant elephants who lived in the skies.  Every time the boy survived by calling the name of God – Vishnu.

In desperation, the King summoned his sister Holika to help get rid of the boy.  Holika was a demoness who once had been given a special favour by god of fire – Agni, so that she would always be protected from the dangers of fire.  Holika tricked Prahlad into climbing with her on to an unlit bonfire.  When they had climbed up, Holika grabbed the boy and called the King’s soldiers to light the fire.  The evil demoness cackled with laughter as the flames began to rise.  Prahlad called: “Vishnu, Vishnu”.  The power of Vishnu was so great that Prahlad was protected from the flames, while Holika, in spite of her wish, perished in the fire.

From that day the festival of Holi is celeberated with colors to mark the victory of virtues over vices

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