There was once a demon named Hiranyakashyap who was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father. Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter fire with Prahlad in her lap. Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, where she could enter the fire unscathed. So Holika made Prahlad to sit on her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. So Holika was burnt to death in the fire. Whereas,Prahlad who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil. Even today, people do Holika dhahan which is ‘Holika’s burning to ashes’ every year to mark the victory of good over evil.
Holi is also celebrated as the triumph of a devotee. As the legend depicts that anybody, howsoever strong, cannot harm a true devotee. And, those who dare torture a true devotee of god shall be reduced to ashes.