According to Hindu scriptures Holika Dahan, which is also known as Holika Deepak or Chhoti Holi, should be done during Pradosh Kaal while Purnimasi Tithi is prevailing. Bhadra prevails during first half of Purnimasi Tithi and all good work should be avoided when Bhadra prevails.
For many traditions in Hinduism, Holi celebrates the death of Holika in order to save Prahlad by Vishnu in the city of Multan, and thus Holi gets its name. In olden days, people use to contribute a piece of wood or two for the Holika bonfire, and this represents Holika killing her brother Hiranya Kashipu.
The night before Holi, pyres are burnt in North India, Nepal and parts of South India in keeping with this tradition. The youth playfully steal all sorts of things and put them in Holika pyre.The first preference to get Holika Dahan Muhurta is during Pradosh while Purnimasi Tithi is prevailing and Bhadra is over.
As per the Hindu Puranas, when Hiranyakashyap observed that his son Prahlad worships Lord Vishnu, he got really furious. He ordered his sister Holika to sit in the fire while holding Prahlad in her lap. It is because Holika was blessed that she cannot be burned in the fire. However, things didn?t go as per the plan. Holika got burned into ashes in the fire and nothing happened to the Vishnu devotee Prahlad. In the memory of this event, there is this canon of performing Holika Dahan The festival of Holi gives a message that this is how Almighty stays available to protect His devotees.
Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire.
On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People sing and dance around the fire. People also perform parikrama of fire. lots of wooden sticks are gathered in the ground, and are worshiped. A thread is tied around a small piece of bread and placed on the fire. It is believed that even though the bread burns, the thread remains clean. This is a memorial of how the evil is destroyed, while the thread is eternal.
People enact the scene of ‘Holika’s burning to ashes’ every year to mark the victory of good over evil. Further, on the last day of Holi, people take a little fire from the bonfire to their homes. It is believed that by following this custom their homes will be rendered pure and their bodies will be free from disease.
The next day people play Holi, the popular festival of colors. Inside homes, people stock up on color pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional delicacies.