The fire crossing only took a few seconds and the priest remained unharmed, however the preparations for the event began more than a month before. This year is the sixth year that Babulalji has crossed through the Holi fire. Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, member for Chhata, was among the witnesses to the ceremony.
The fire crossing is a local Holika Dahan ceremony that has gained extra exposure this year due to the UP government’s efforts to spread the word about Braj’s Holi. Holi is celebrated throughout India, but it has almost become a secular festival as people focus on parties and pranks, almost forgetting about the scriptural origins. Even in Braj, the spiritual nature of Holi is sometimes suppressed, especially when alcohol is involved and youths throw mud from gutters and harass women.
Ancient traditions, like the Fahan village fire crossing ceremony, help to remind us of the scriptural origins of Holi – Prahlad Maharaj’s unshakable faith in Vishnu that enabled him to withstand fire. Holi, which was previously known as Holaka, is mentioned in several scriptures including The Atharva Veda (18.12), which states, “Now, holaka is on the full-moon night of the Phalguna month.”
Gaudiya Vaishnavas celebrate Holi Purnima as the appearance day of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1533) and Brijwasi folk law is full of stories about Radha Krishna’s Holi pastimes, like the story of the Gopis beating Krishna with sticks, which is commemorated as Lathmar Holi. While secular Hindus celebrate the festival as a ‘festival of love’ or ‘spring festival’, Holi is the festival that connects the pastimes of Lord Vishnu, Shri Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.