Holi Pujan (होली पूजन) is done twice on Holi, first in the afternoon before bonfire, this is known as Thandi Holi (ठंडी होली) and then in the evening at the time of Holika Dahan (होलिका दहन) or Bonfire. People are of the opinion that by doing Holi Pujan all sort of fear can be conquered and it's also believed that a Puja on Holi keeps children safe from all sort of ill & bad demons. A puja on this day confers power, prosperity and wealth for all and long life for children. Holika was a demoness and sister of King Hrinyakashyap (हरिण्यकश्यप ), who did not believed in Gods and infact wanted himself to be worshiped by his pupils. Hrinyakashyap's (हरिण्यकश्यप ) own son Prahlad (प्रहलाद) had faith in God and he used to worship Lord Vishnu. Hrinyakashyap (हरिण्यकश्यप ) has assigned the task of killing Prahlad (प्रहलाद) to his sister Holika, who had a boon that fire can not burn her and hence she took Prahlad (प्रहलाद) along with her and set herself on fire but with the God's grace Prahlad (प्रहलाद) came out unhurt while Holika got burnt in the fire. Holi is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. Although Holika was a demoness but it's believed that she laid her life and Prahlad (प्रहलाद) got saved due to this hence Holika is also worshiped on Holi.
As per the rituals and instructions in the religious books, Holi Pujan is done prior to Holika Dahan. Time or Muhurta for Holika Dahan is important as it's believed doing it at wrong time will fetch bad luck for everybody but there is no calculations for Holi Pujan timing is specified. As per rituals it's generally done in the afternoon at the identified site for Holika Dahan. Holika Dahan although can be performed anywhere but is generally performed at some prominent place, which is accessible to people and people can easily gather around and perform the Puja and Holika Dahan.
Preparation for Holi Pujan (होली पूजन कि तैयारी)
At the prominent identified site for Holika Dahan a wooden log is erected by placing smaller wooden sticks and pieces of log and then this log center is further extended by placing twigs, leaves, small sticks, branches of trees and dried cow dung in different forms (Upla / गोबर के उपले / गोबर के कण्डे / बड़कुला / भरभोलिए ). In the center at the top of the heap an effigy of Holika and Prahlad usually made of cow dung is also placed. This whole Holika pile is then decorated with toys made of cow dung such as shields, stars, sun, moon, swords etc.
To perform Holi Pujan one needs dry beads of cow dung (गोबर के कण्डे / बड़कुला / भरभोलिए ), a pot of water (पानी का लोटा / कलश), Roli (रोली) for Tilak (तिलक), Unbroken Rice (चावल / अक्षत), flowers, dhoop (धूप) & Agarbatti (अगरबत्ती) etc. as fragrances, raw cotton thread (कच्चा सूत), pieces of turmeric (हल्दी की सूखी गाँठ), unbroken lentil of Moong, Batasha (बताशा) for sweet, Gulal (गुलाल) and Coconut (नारियल). People also carry twigs of fully grown grains especially barley or Jau (जौ), wheat (गेहूँ) and gram (छोलिया) for the Puja.
In the course of Holika Dahan, effigy of Prahalad is taken out of fire. In addition to this four beads of cow compost are kept sheltered before blaze. One is kept protected for the sake of progenitors, second for the sake of God Hanuman, third in name of Goddess Sheetala and fourth for the sake of the crew.
Holi Pujan Vidhi (होली पूजन विधि) / Process of Puja
As mentioned above first puja is performed in the afternoon once the Holika setup (होलिका स्थापना) is done. During this puja, which is generally performed by the women, they carry the things mentioned above for puja and at the Holika Pile they put flowers, beads of cow dung, turmeric etc. in the bottom of the pile, put tilak on the pile, prey to god to bestow all the good on everybody in the family and give everybody especially kids long life. After this women tie the raw cotton thread on one of stick and circumambulate the Holika setup 7 times while wrapping it with raw cotton thread.
Bonfire on holi, which is known as Holika Dahan in North India is known as Kama Dahanam in south India.
Mantra to chant while circumambulate (प्रदक्षिणा मंत्र)
यानि कानि च पापानि जन्मातर कृतानि च ।
तानि तानि प्रणश्यन्ति प्रदक्षिणे पदे पदे ॥
Step by step process of Holika Dahan (होलिका दहन) in the evening
In the evening at the identified Muhurta / time of Holika Dahan (as explained in related article here. This year Holika Dahan Muhurta (होलिका दहन मुहूर्त २०१७) is between 6:23 PM and 8:23 PM i.e 18:23 hrs and 20:23 hrs), people from locality gather around the Holika and Priest begin the Holi Pujan. First all the necessory Puja items and ingredients are placed in a Plate ( थाली) and a pot with water (पानी का लोटा / कलश) with holy water of Ganges (गंगाजल) mixed in that is kept along.
As per Hindu Pujan Process, first of all Lord Ganesha (गणेशा) is recalled and homage is paid to him and afterwards Goddess Ambika (अम्बिका ), Lord Narasimha (भगवान नरसिंह) and his devotee Prahlad (प्रह्लाद) are worshiped and homage is paid to all. Priest and people circumambulate the Holika setup, while priest dropping holy water from the pot on the ground and chanting matra to circumambulate (प्रदक्षिणा मंत्र).
After circumambulating the Holika, People along with the priest chant Rakshoghna Mantra (रक्षोघ्न मन्त्र) from Rigveda (ऋग्वेद). (Rig Veda IV. 4. 1-5 and Yajur Veda I. 2. 14. 1-5. Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad 27)
Rakshoghna Mantra is chanted for removal of obstacles and miseries; for fulfilment of worldly desires; to ward off evil effects of planets, etc. Here we are giving these mantra anong with their meaning.
Rakshoghna Mantra (रक्षोघ्न मन्त्र) for Holi Puja
कृणुष्व पाजः प्रसितिं न पृथ्वीं याहि राजेवामवाँ इभेन।
तृष्वीमनु प्रसितिं द्रूणानो अस्ताऽसि विध्य रक्षसस्तपिष्ठैः॥ (1)
तव भ्रमास आशुया पतन्त्यनु स्पृश धृषता शोशुचानः।
तपुँष्यग्ने जुह्वा पतङ्गान् असन्दितो वि सृज विष्वगुल्काः॥ (2)
प्रति स्पशो वि सृज तूर्णितमो भवा पायुर्विशो अस्या अदब्धः।
यो नो दूरे अघशँसो यो अन्त्यग्ने माकिष्टे व्यथिरा दधर्षीत्॥ (3)
उदग्ने तिष्ठ प्रत्याऽऽ तनुष्व न्यमित्राँ ओषतात् तिग्महेते।
यो नो अरातिँ ममिधान चक्रे नीचा तं धक्ष्यतसं न शुष्कम्॥ (4)
ऊर्ध्वा भव प्रति विध्याध्यस्मत् आविष्कृणुष्व दैव्यान्यग्ने।
अव स्थिरा तनुहि पातुजुनां जामिमजामिं प्र मृणीहि शत्रून्॥ (5)
Meaning of Rakshogna Mantra
O! Adorable Lord, set forth your vigour, as a hunter speeds his capacious snare, and go like a compelling king on his elephant with his orderlies. You are the scatterer of dark forces. May you swiftly follow and transfix the knaves with your dash that blazes more fiercely. (1)
O! Divine flame, your quick and spinning blazes move rapidly. Shining in your wrath, may devour (the adversary). O! Fire divine, (when oblations are) offered by scoop, may you cast scorching flames, sparks and fire brands all surrounding you. (2)
O! Flame celestial, might you with your most quick movement run your brilliant blazes all around and un-opposed turn into the defender of your kin. Let no malicious scoundrel, if far away or close by, predominate against us, your admirers. (3)
Ascent up, O! Sharp weaponed perfect shoot! Spread wide your blazes. Completely expend the bastards, antagonistic to us. O! Bursting blaze divine! Torch that one like a bit of dry wood, who goes about as an adversary towards us. (4)
Ascent up, O! Perfect flame! Rebuke the individuals who overwhelm us. Show your heavenly energies. Loosen the solid bowstrings of the threatening enemies. Demolish the individuals who are threatening, if companion or outsider. (5)
After chanting of these mantras, bonfire is ignited and once fire start growing, effigy of Prahlad is taken out of fire with the help of some wooden stick to symbolizing saving of Prahlad. Ganga jal is thrown on the ground near the fire. Holika is further worshipped by offering fresh grains, chandan, turmeric, flowers, gulal and other puja material brought.
People pay homage to Holika and pray to Lord Narsimha (भगवान नरसिंह) and Goddess Ambika (अम्बिका ) for the long life of their kids and everybody in the family. They also bake fresh grains in the Holy fire (bonfire) and take it as Prashad. It's being a community event, people also through gulal on each other and put chandan or gulal tilak on the foreheads of each other and greet and wish a happy and prosperous Holi Festival.
People collect left over of ashes next morning and smear it on the body as an act of purification of soul and body.
Other articles: Holi Festival Recipes