For the last five years Babulal Panda was upholding the tradition
Falen Holi: Monu Panda takes up the baton
2020-03-14 (VT): One of the main attractions of Braj
Holi is the fire-walking ritual of Falen. Pilgrims and tourists from around the
world gather in the small village, approximately five kilometres from Mathura,
to witness this event which is held during the wee hours of Phalgun Purnima/Holi
(March 10, 2020).
This year was special
because the coveted and most auspicious opportunity to walk the Holi bonfire
(Holika) was passed on to Monu Panda. Monu Panda is the son of Sushil Panda who
has carried out this ritual for eight consecutive years in the past. For the last
five years Babulal Panda was upholding the tradition.
The decision was taken
by the village panchayat and panda samaj. Of the nominations
received, three, including Monu Panda, Veeru Panda and Jagdish were found to be
most promising. After prolonged consideration, 27-year-old Monu Panda was
finally given the opportunity to accept Bhakta Prahlad’s garland.
After doing parikrama of the village and donning the
garland on Magh Poornima (February
9), he sat for a month-long tapasya
(austerities) at the Prahlad temple.
On the night of March 8
while people from seven nearby villages were assembling Holika (30 ft diameter and 15 ft height) in front of
the temple, Monu Panda was waiting inside to receive a hint from the cooling of
As soon as he got the signal
around 4.30 a.m., he came out of the temple for a bath in Prahlad Kund, and
from there, ran towards the burning Holika. Taking approximately 20 steps, Monu
Panda emerged unscathed from the raging fire. Chants of ‘Prahlad Maharaj Ki Jai’ filled the atmosphere.