Holi as we all know is a festival that is celebrated with great enthusiasm mostly in the Northern parts of India with the ritual of "Holika Dahan" where in a heap of wood is burnt as a symbolic gesture of burning the negativity within us.
The very next day of Holi, people celebrate Dhulandi which is an extended version of the festivities of Holi that find expression in the form of a ritual where people apply herbal colours on each other.
This festive mood of Holi is being celebrated since centuries.
Holi is associated with the life of "Prahlaad" who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and Dhulandi which is the occasion of playing with colours is associated with the playfulness that Lord Krishna displayed at the time of His incarnation.
The colourful aspect of Holi (Dhulandi) is becoming very popular nowadays in many parts of the world.
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- Holashtak is comprised of two words- "Holi and Ashtak".
- Holi is the festival that we just talked about and Ashtak means eight.
- Holashtak is actually the period of eight days before Holi which is considered as inauspicious.
- Holashtak begins on Ashtami Tithi (eighth date) of the Shukla Paksha (Waxing Phase of Moon) in the month of Phalgun, as per the Hindu calendar.
- Holashtak ends on the Purnima (Full Moon Day) of the month of Phalgun which is the day of performing 'Holika Dahan'.
This year Holashtak will begin on 14th March and end on 21st March 2019.
What is Holika Dahan?
The spiritual texts say that child devotee Prahlaad's father was an evil King and did not like his son worshiping Lord Vishnu. So he tried to kill Prahalaad by multiple means but failed everytime.
During one attempt, he called his sister Holika who had a boon that- fire will not harm her.
So Holika took Prahlaad along with her and sat on a pyre of woods that was set on fire, hoping that Prahlaad will die. But by Lord Vishnu's grace, Prahlaad came out of the burning pyre unharmed and Holika turned to ashes.
Therefore, on Holi people put an effigy of a woman with an effigy of a child in her lap on a pyre of woods and burn it to symbolize and acknowledge the fact that God always protects His devotees from all evils.
Why is the period of Holashtak considered inauspicious?
As per the Holy Hindu Scriptures, the period of Holashtak is considered as inauspicious and not conducive for performing pious tasks and significant events.
It is for this purpose that auspicious ceremonies and major activities like marriages, sale & purchase of property/vehicle, 'Grah Pravesh' (entry into a newly constructed or bought house), Naamkaran Sanskaar (Naming) of a child or any other spiritual rituals are not performed during this eight day period.
People who are about to start a new business, make sure that they let the period of Holashtak get over before they foray into any new venture. This has an astrological reason behind it.
The reason is that all planetary bodies which are- Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Rahu (North Node of Moon) and Ketu (South Node of Moon) go through a number of subtle yet very powerful cosmic changes during this period.
Hence it is best to put any new plans during this period on hold and take a fresh call once everything gets settled in the cosmos.
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Significance of Holashtak for Tantrik Practices
While the period of Holashtak is not auspicious for almost everyone, there is one community for which Holashtak brings enormous possibilities of spiritual growth.
We are talking about Tantrik people who are the people that walk on a very intense spiritual path. Holashtak is very conducive for performing energy intense Tantrik practices.
Significance of Daan or Donations during Holashtak
It is said that one must perform Daan (Donations) to the needy during Holashtak to burn his/her negative karmas that are slated to bring problems in the future.
One who performs Daan during Holashtak get rid of countless negative karmas and averts all the problems that were supposed to find expression due to those karmas in the life ahead.
So make the best use of Holashtak and get ready for the festival of Holi that is just round the corner!
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