Hola Mohalla is a Sikh festival that takes place on the first of the lunar month of Chet, which usually falls in March. This, by a tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, follows the Hindu festival of Holi by one day.
Meaning of Hola Mohalla
Hola is the masculine form of the feminine-sounding Holi. The word “Mohalla” is derived from the Arabic root hal (alighting, descending) and is a Punjabi word that implies an organized procession in the form of an army column. The words ‘Hola Mohalla’ would thus mean ‘the charge of an army.
Together with the words “Hola Mohalla” stand for “mock fight.”
Where Hola Mohalla is celebrated?
The fair is held during Holi and Hola at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib is traditionally a three-day event but participants attend Anandpur Sahib for a week, camping out and enjoying various displays of fighting prowess and bravery, and listening to kirtan, music and poetry.
History of Hola Mohalla
This festival originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh, who held the first such mock fight event at Anandpur Sahib in February 1701. The foothills of the Shivaliks in the Ropar (Now Roopnagar) district of Punjab’s north-eastern region, especially around the historic townships of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib, have, since 1701 been playing host to Hola Mohalla.
The military exercise, which was personally supervised by the Guru, was also carried out on the bed of the River Charan Ganga with the famous Hindu temple of Mata Naina Devi in the Shivaliks as the backdrop.
The Indian government eventually accorded Hola Mohalla the status of a National festival.
This annual festival held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab and now replicated at other Gurdwaras worldwide was started by the tenth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi at Anandpur Sahib. It reminds the people of valor and defense preparedness, concepts dear to the Tenth Guru who was at that time battling the Mughal empire and the hill kings.
Source of Information: www.sikhdharma.org
Activities in Hola Mohalla
On this three-day grand festival,
- Mock battles,
- Displays of weapons, etc. are held,
- Followed by Kirtan, music and poetry competitions.
The participants perform daring feats, such as
- Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons),
- Tent pegging,
- Bareback horse-riding,
- Standing erect on two speeding horses and
- Various other feats of bravery.
For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (Free community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of Seva (community service).
Final Words about Hola Mohalla
Sikhs in large numbers still assemble at Anandpur Sahib on this day and an impressive and colourful procession is taken out in which the Nihangs, in their traditional panoply, form the vanguard while parading their skill in the use of arms, horsemanship, tent-pegging, and other war-like sports.
The Hola Mohalla festival is unique and distinguishable from other festivals in that the Nihang have tried to preserve the traditional form and content as established during its inception, for more than three centuries.
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