Falen Holi: Monu Panda takes up the baton

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For the last five years Babulal Panda was upholding the tradition

Vrindavan, 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 the flames.

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.

 

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