The observance of Holashtak is associated with the colourful festival of Holi. It refers to the eight day period just before the celebrations of Holi. The period of Holashtak is considered to be inauspicious by most of the Hindu communities in
Northern parts of India. According to the Purnimant calendar followed in North India, Holashtak starts from the ‘Ashtami’ (8th day) of the ‘Krishna Paksha’ (the period of bright fortnight of moon) and continues till the ‘Purnima’ (full moon day) of
the ‘Falgun’ month. The last day of Holashtak, that is, Falgun Purnima is the day for observance of Holika Dahan in most of the regions. In the Gregorian calendar, Holashtak falls during the months of mid-February to mid-March. Holashtak is
celebrated with full enthusiasm in Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and other regions of North India.
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.
Holashtak is a word made from two different words, ‘Holi’ and ‘Ashtak’ (8th day) implying the eight days of Holi. In the Hindu community, the period of Holashtak is considered to be unfavourable. Therefore auspicious ceremonies like marriages,
child naming sanskar, housewarming and any other 16 Hindu Sanskars or rituals are avoided during this period. 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’. The celebrations of Holi start with the beginning of Holashtak and come to an end on ‘Dhuleti’, the day following Falgun Purnima.