Gujarat is known for its Holi celebrations. The state is known to celebrate this festival with incredible enthusiasm and fervour. In India, every city has its unique way of celebrating this festival, which makes the festival of Holi quite interesting. Holika Dahan in Surat is particularly unique for the fact that people here play during this festival with incredible joy. Holika Dahan in Surat has a special significance due to the Dahan ritual being so sacred and revered.
There is a village in Surat where people walk on hot embers on Holika Dahan. Despite the many things that Holi is associated with, this comes as a unique way to celebrate this festival. To celebrate the eve of Holi, the residents of Saras village in Surat wait for the bonfire to douse and later they walk on the doused fire area. This ritual is quite old and people devoutly participate in this ritual.
The Holika Dahan in Surat celebrations begins before the arrival of Holi on this particular day. Chotti Holi is also called Holika Dahan, where people light up a bonfire to celebrate the victory of good over evil. This is a time of immense joy for people to forget all their differences and make peace with each other. After Holika Dahan in Surat, people of the city also apply colours on the cheeks; however, the actual colour war begins the next day.
There are several Holi related legends as to why the Dahan is conducted; however the most popular of all is the story of Prahlada. The story speaks of a young Prahlada who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu Prahlada. Prahlada was the son of a demon, Hiranyakashipu, and his wife Kayadhu. However, he was born and brought up under the guidance of Sage Narada when Hiranyakashipu was busy trying to please Lord Brahma to attain immortality.
Hiranyakashipu, however, was against Prahlada being a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, he asked his sister Holika, a lady demon, to kill Prahlada. Holika had a divine shawl gifted by Lord Brahma to protect her from fire. Holika therefore made a devious plan and lured Prahlada into the flames; however, due to a miracle, the divine shawl protected Prahlada while Holika burned in the flames.