About Hola Mohalla festival
Hola Mohalla festival is a major bubbly occasion for Sikhs around the globe. The traditional Sikh festival had started when the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh decided to inaugurate such a festival, especially in the territory of Punjab and Haryana. Hola Mohalla is actually an annual fair that is organised in a large scale at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab on the day following the festival of Holi.
During this festival, processions are organised in the form of army type columns accompanied by war-drums, standard-bearers, who proceed to a given spot or move in state from one gurdwara to another. Purpose of the fair was to physically strengthen the Sikh community by holding military exercises and mock battles. Today, Sikhs celebrate by watching and partaking in martial arts parades, led by the nishan sahibs of the Gurdwaras. These are followed by poetry readings and music.
When it is celebrated
Hola Mahalla begins on the first day of the lunar month of Chet which usually falls in March in the Nanakshahi calendar and follows the Hindu festival of colours, Holi.
Guru Gobind Singh and his troop were into a combat against Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor and later on against the Rajputs. The name of the force which was founded by Guru Gobind Singh was Khalsa Panth. A new concept of dedicating a day for the poetry contest and mock fight had come into the picture long back on 22nd February, 1701. It was held in Holgarh fort at the north-western corridor of Anandpur Sahib, spread across the Rivulet Charan Ganga. Slowly but definitely these mock fights were extended over a sprawling area of Kiratpur Sahib and other Gurdwaras all over the world. The popularity of this Sikh festival is now immense.
The festival is celebrated for three consecutive days, in which members of Sikh community display their physical strength by performing dare-devil acts like bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses, Gatka, tent pegging etc. This is followed by music and poetry competition to lighten the charged up atmosphere.
There are also a number of Darbars where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important Gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at the Takhat.
For meal, which is a basic part of the Sikh foundation Gurdwara, guests sit together in Pangats Queues and eat vegan nourishment of the Langars. For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars are organized by the local people as a part of sewa. Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar are provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning utensils and other manual tasks that need to be carried out. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground.
Hola Mohalla builds upon the festival of Holi. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib prescribes celebrating Holi by serving God. The colours of Holi manifest in the Lord’s love. As Holi starts with Holika Dahan on the full moon night of Phagan or Phalgan, the festival of Holi is referred to as the festival of Phalgun even though the actual day of Holi falls on the first day of the lunar month of Chett. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji built upon this method of celebrating Holi by adding a martial element and creating Hola Mohalla to be celebrated a day after Holi.
The tenth guru Gobind Singh felt that Holi, had lost its original meaning over the years. It was no longer a celebration to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood. In 1757 AD he decided to revive the spirit of Holi and weave its essence into a festival created in the Khalsa traditions. Holla Mohalla is celebrated in the month of Phalguna a day after Holi.
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