Holi is the time to forgive and forget old enmities. Holi is not only a social event but also it has its religious significance. The main Holi festivities span for two days. The first day has only religious significance when people perform Puja ritualistically before Holika Dahan. The second day has only social significance and no Puja activities are associated with it. For most of the tourists and foreigners it is the second day which is known as Holi. However for the Hindus, it is the first day which has more significance and is considered the main Holi day.
Eight day prior to the festival Holi are collectively known as "Holashtak". The word 'ashtak' means 'eight'. This period commence from the lunar month of Phalgun and on ashtami tithi and it ends on Phalgun Poornima. This period of eight days is considered as highly inauspicious , specially in north India.No auspicious work is commence during this period.This period is considered is very important for Taantriks as this is the most favourable period for fulfilling their goals through 'Saadhna'.They attain special powers during this time which can be used in a desired way.Most temples in Mathura and Vrindavan organize Holi events during these eight days of Holashtak. At the begining of Holashtak,on day 1, the place where Holika dahan has to be performed after 8 days is cleaned with Ganga Jal. pyre is created specifically with a wood which are collected from the broken branches of trees.All the 16 sanskaars of hindu are not performed during this period. In case of a death, the last rites are performed only after special prayer to ward off the evil effect of Holashtak.It is believe that on day one of Holashtak, Lord Shiva burned the Kaam dev with HIS fire of anger.
In the year 2016, the time between 16th March 2016 to 23th March 2016 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.It should be noted that Holashtak is an inauspicious time to conduct marriage and any other auspicious ceremonies. However the effect of Holashtak is limited to certain area of the Northern India. The places on the banks of river Vyas, Ravi and Satlaj, all of which are in Punjab, and the Pushkar area of Ajmer are affected with Holashtak. However most people in North India, even those residing outside the mentioned places, avoid any auspicious ceremonies during this time. Holashtak is less known event in the South India.
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.In some communities people even do not prefer starting a new business venture during the Holashtak period. This is due to the fact that during the period of Holashtak, Hindu planets like Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Rahu and Venus undergo transformations. The period of Holashtak is considered to be very favourable for Tantriks as they can easily achieve their goals through ‘Saadhna’.
Holashtak tantrik puja
Holashtak puja is carried out by vamtantra with proper tantrik rituals. Benefit of this tantrik puja are many. Some of the benefits are:To protect the person suffering from the illness or to avoid untimely death/akaal mrityu, to protect from family disputes, enemies, court cases, to protect from bankrupted business, to protect from all ill-effects of Black magic, Evil spells, Curses, Ghosts and Spirits.
Tantrik holashtak puja also cures everyone from the evil effects of past attacks and protects one from all future attacks and maran prayog.
Rituals during Holashtak:
With the start of Holashtak, people start decorating the branch of a tree using colourful pieces of clothes. Each individual ties a piece of cloth on the branch and it is then finally buried in the ground. Few communities even burn these pieces of clothes during Holika Dahan.
Also on the beginning day of Holashtak, Falgun Shukla Paksha Ashtami, and a place is chosen for Holika Dahan. On each day small sticks are gathered and collected at the place of Holika Dahan. The 9-day festival of Holi finally comes to end on the day of ‘Dhuleti’.
The day of Holashtak is ideal for doing ‘Daan’ or offering donations. During this time one must generously donate clothes, grains, money and other essential commodities as per their financial status.
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.