Prahlad In Holika's Lap, 12th Century A.D - Chennakesava Temple, Karnataka.
The Legend of Holika & Prahlad:
There was once a demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father.
Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed.
Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. The legend has it that Holika had to pay the price of her sinister desire by her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.
Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.
Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.
Even today, people enact the scene of 'Holika's burning to ashes' every year to mark the victory of good over evil. In several states of India, specially in the north, effigies of Holika are burnt in the huge bonfires that are lit.
Further, people take a little fire from the bonfire to their homes. It is believed that by following this custom their homes will be rendered pure.
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