From among all the legends related to Holi, the mythological story of Holika and Prahlad is the one most closely related to this festival of colors which also represents the victory of good over evil. This is the story of Bhakt Prahlad (devotee Prahlad), his evil father Hiranyakashyapu and his demon aunt Holika after whom the Hindu festival Holi gets its name.
Story of Prahlad and Holika
Once there was a demon king Hiranyakashyap who won over the whole universe and became proud of being powerful than Gods and deities. He ordered that nobody will worship any of the Gods and would worship him only.
Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakashyap, was a great devotee of Narayana (Lord Vishnu). He was aware of the evil intentins of his father and kept on worshipping Vishnu. On this, his father got angry and took various steps to kill Prahlad. He ordered his soldiers to throw Prahlad from hill but Lord Vishnu saved him. Then attempt was made to make elephants trample Prahlad but it also did not work. Snakes were also arranged to bit Prahalad but God again saved him. Discouraged by all his failed attempts to kill his son, Hiranyakashyap sought help from his sister ‘Holika’
Holika was immune to fire due to a boon. Taking advantage of this, her brother asked her to make Prahlad sit on her lap and to enter herself into blazing fire. This would kill the great devotee- the Bhakta Prahlad but she would emerge out of fire without any harm.
Aunt Holika then lured her nephew Prahlad to sit on her lap and she herself sat into the fire. Miraculously, nothing happened to Bhakta Prahlad, Lord Vishnu saved him again but Holika was reduced to ashes in spite of the boon. She forgot that boon would not work if she tried to harm anyone.
Afterwards, Lord Vishnu killed the demon king Hiranyakashyap and Prahad ruled the kingdom with wisdom and kindness. This Holika story establishes the fact that good wins over evil and no one can destroy faithful souls.
Since then, on the occasion of Holi festival, Holika dahan (Bonfire to commemorate the victory of good over evil) is performed by Hindu devotees, particularly in North India. On the eve of Holi festival, a bonfire is lit and a dummy of Holika is burnt by the devotees as the celebration of victory of good over evil.