Hiranyakashipu is said to be an asura demon, who is fond of wealth. Hiranya means gold. Kashipu means food and clothing. He is clothed in gold and riches.

Hiranyakashipu symbolises the asuri tendencies rising where there is fondness for wealth in the form of gold, exotic food and extravagant clothing. The notion of supremacy, controllership and ‘invincibility’ that arises with the power that wealth brings.

Prahlad is the son of Hiranyakashipu symbolising devotion to the highest power, here Vishnu. When prosperity grows, devotion to God in any name and manner is the only way to keep this tendency in check in the initial stages. But if the tendency is not reigned through devotion then it ultimately brings a fierce end to prosperity, the person and family.

Hiranyakashipu’s sister is Holika, an asurani, female demon. She represents attachment born out of aviveka (non discernment) in the environment of ‘Gold’. Gold means aggrandisement of wealth. Wealth is empowering by nature. The empowering capacity is equated to ‘Shakti’ which is the ‘female’ aspect of creation. When this Shakti is misplaced it is finally the cause of doom. Holika dahan is celebrated a day before Holi, to symbolise that final victory is imminent if aviveka is destroyed in the fire of viveka which is lit by knowledge.

Holi, a festival for the followers of Sanatana Dharma, is a celebration of victory of Devotion over the lure and the power of the ephemeral. The victory of daivi divine force over asuri demonic forces within and outside. In whose heart Bhagavāna / God resides, for them the true master of creation comes at calling. And all the vibrant colours of life play sportively with merriment.

Happy Holi everyone 🙏🏼

©️ Deepti Vishwanath

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