Holashtak begins 2021, 22nd March - Monday
According to the lunar month (Chandra Maas), Purnima of Phagun Maas is celebrated as Holika festival. Holashtak witnesses the arrival of Holi. Holashtak is known as a poster, informing about the arrival of Holi festival. Looking at the literal meaning of Holashtak, we find Hola + Ashtak, which means eight days before Holi, that is Holashtak. Basically, we can see that holi is a festival of nine days instead of a single day. On the day on Dhulendi with colors and Gulal, this festival comes to an end.
Holi, begins from Holi festival, Holashtak and is carried up to Dhulendi. Because of this, all the nine days, nature has a festive and happy atmosphere. In the year 2021, the time between 22nd March 2021 to 28th March 2021 is celebrated as the festival of Holashtak. Holashtak is like a knocking of Holi’s arrival. Also, from this day preparation of Holika Dahan is started, further moving to Holi.
Importance of Holashtak for Holika Dahan
For the Holika pujan, eight days before Holika Dahan, the area is cleaned with Holy water (Ganga Jal). At that place dried cow dung cakes, dried wood and grass and a stick of Holi is placed. The day on which this work is done is called the beginning of Holashtak. The village, region, or a crossroad, where the stick of Holi is set, there no auspicious work is done before Holika Dahan.
Tasks to be Performed During Holashtak
On the first day of Holashtak, place for Holika Dahan is chosen. On this day, the chosen place is cleaned with Holy water(Ganga Jal). At this place, the work of gathering of woods is done. This day dried wood is collected, especially the ones which on drying fall themselves from the tree are gathered, by going to different places and are brought to crossroad where stick is placed.
From the day of Holashtak to the day of Holika Dahan, everyday, some small sticks or woods are added. In this way, on the day of Holika Dahan, the collection turns into a huge stack of woods. And from this day, the colors of Holi start scattering in the atmosphere, symbolising the beginning of Holi. Children and adults, start playing a little bit of with colorsi on this day.
Things that Shouldn't be Done During Holashtak
Holashtak is mainly celebrated in Punjab and Northern India. On the day of Holashtak, where on one hand, the above mentioned works are done and on the other hand, there are many works which should not be done on this day. This prohibition is from the day of Holashtak to Holika Dahan. As per the name Holashtak begins eight days before Holi.01
In the mid of Holashtak, none of the rituals(Sanskar) is done out of the 16. Even, before the cremation, ‘Shanti Karya’ is performed. Since, the 16 rituals are not allowed in these days, hence, this period is counted as inauspicious.
Significance of Holashtak from Ancient Times
Holashtak stays from the Phagun Shukal Ashthami to Holika Dahan, that is, Purnima. In these days, the season start showing changes. Winters seem to say goodbye, with the arrival of spring. In addition, the coming of spring is indicated with the fragrance of flowers in the nature. It is believed that, Holashtak began when Lord Shiva got angry on Kaam dev and killed him.
The assumption regarding Holashtak is believed only in some parts of India. The belief of these ideas are basically seen in Punjab. As the colors of Holi, its celebration style is also diverse. Holi is celebrated in different ways in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Goa etc. In all the region of India which don’t belive in Holashtak, don’t stop doing any good work between the period of Holashtak to Holika Dahan.
Bikaner Holi, a Unique form of Holashtak
Similar to Holashtak, a tradition of Holi is celebrated in Bikaner of Rajasthan. Like Punjab, here also, Holi celebration is started eight days before Holi. The festival of Holi starts from Saptami Tithi of Phagun Mas which lasts up to Dulhandi. Holi of Rajhastan’s Bikaner also conatins enjoyment together with unique styles. This Holi also has its starting with praying of a pole, similar to that of Holashtak in which a stick is established at the crossroad.