Holla Mohalla

Indian festivals are famous the worldwide due to its vibrancy, buoyancy and vivacity. They are celebrated with such conviction and devotion that most of them have become major attractions for home and outside tourists. This is because India is rich in diversity and some of these festivals have become a sort of identity of the regions where they originated. The list would be endless if you sit to count down the religious celebrations. In addition, it will not be complete without the mention of Holla Mohalla. This festival has become the pride and joy of Punjab. Such is the zeal and severity of the celebration that it is the state festival.

Holla Mohalla Festival

Holla Mohalla is a Punjabi festival celebrated for three days. According to the Nanaksahi calendar it falls in the Chet month and just one day after Holi, which comes in March every year. However, the date of celebration keeps changing. Guru Gobind Singh started it with an intention to provide a platform for his followers to display their martial arts skills, and to make the festival of colours that precedes it more attractive. The word 'Mohalla' has connotations of a flank of an army marching in an organized manner during a war. The Punjabi meaning of Holla Mohalla is 'mock fight.' The occasion organized a grand display of fighting skills to the beats of the war drums.

History of Holla Mohalla

March is the time when the festive mood in Punjab is touching the sky. This month brings dual celebrations in the form of Holi and Holla Mohalla. While the former one is a feminine word for indulging in games of colours and water, the latter one is the masculine version to display might and skills. People conduct a mock fight and exhibit their defensive and attacking skills. They also display the mastery in using different types of weapons used in war. In addition, they exhibit their soft sides and artistic skills through music and poetries.

This festival has a history of more than 300 years. Guru Gobind Singh started it in 1701. Initially, it was meant to hone the martial arts skills of his force Khalsa Panth. The place chosen by Gobind Singh for the exhibition was the Holgarh Fort, which was in the northwest of Anandpur Sahib. He called his men to participate in a simulated fight using real weapons and bring out the poet inside through poetry competition. This tradition caught the interest of his followers and spread to the nearby villages of Kiratpur Sahib. The tradition started in Anandpur Sahib few hundred years ago is now celebrated in every part of the world where the Sikh community is residing.

Celebration of Holla Mohalla

There are lively celebrations throughout the state, but the place where it originated has its own charm. The Nihang community is at the forefront in making the festival attracts. It is held for three days with lots of gaiety and energy. Thousands of people gather in Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib. These two towns have a great historical importance for the Sikh, as they have been the karmabhoomi of all Sikh Gurus. This day is in memory of the valor and bravery of Guru Gobind Singh who showed the Mughals what it takes to shake the faith of people in religion.

Various competitions are arranged to mark the festival. The events organized are on such a grand scale that it is known as the mini-Olympic or Sikh Olympic event. All the participant display their skills in horse riding, sword-fighting, stick-fighting, tent fixing, riding two horses at the same time by standing on the back of each horse, power lifting, pulling loaded tractors with hands, jumping through a circle of fire, passing a motorcycle over the stomach, and many other acts that average person cannot imagine of. Poetry and music competitions are also organized. The procession is taken on horses and elephants where visitors get to understand the Sikh heritage closely.

Kirtans are held in the Gurudwara. Devotees listen to the reading of the holy book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Panj Piara led a procession on the last day that starts from the Takhat Keshgarh Sahib. Thousands accompany it, which passes through all the prominent places of worship and ends from where it started. The seva community arranges a langar or community lunch. Many people from the near and far villages donate groceries and raw vegetables to the community. These items are cooked and served lunch to thousands of people. Many women volunteer to do the cooking as part of the devotional activity. The meal cooked is served as prasad to devotees in a pangat (row).

Holla Mohalla is a Sikh festival that helps in understanding the Sikh community, their respect for Gurus and their fun-loving nature. Some of the skills displayed during this festival are worth using them in the Olympics.