Holla Mohalla Festival in Punjab

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Holla Mohalla - A Sikh festival

Holla Mohalla - a Sikh festival is celebrated every year in the month of March, a day after Holi. Hola "Mohalla" derives its name from Punjabi word “Mohalla” implies an organized Procession in the form of an army column accompanied by war drums and standard-bearers, and proceeding to a given location or moving in state from one Gurdwara to another.

The festival was started by the tenth Sikh Guru – Guru Govind Singh who had tried to gather Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles after Holi. This has now become a traditional annual festival of Sikhs held at Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab. The festival also marks the New Year as per rituals and lunar Nanakshahi calendar of Sikhs. It is celebrated over three days and it retains the character of fun and joy of Holi which concludes a day before.
Even today, Sikhs celebrate this festival joyfully by watching and performing in martial arts parades, led by the Nishan Sahibs of the Gurdwaras. Which is then, followed by poetry readings and music competitions. But viewing it closely might be risky for spectators as the participants who perform Holla Mohalla fight hard with one another even though they do not fight in reality. The celebration has been recognized as a National Festival by the Govt. of India and it is being celebrated in the state of Punjab since 1701.
History Of Holla Mohalla

Holla Mohalla was first started on 1st March 1757 at Anandpur on Chet vadi. This custom was originated during the time of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) who held the first procession at Anandpur on Chet vadi. This was done to avert a grimmer struggle against Hola Mohalla Celebrations at Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara imperial power following the battle of Ninnohgrah in 1700. Guru Sahib told his Sikhs wake up to their responsibility and duty as AKAAL PURAKH KI FAUJ (the Army of the Almighty) to defend the TRUTH and PROTECT society. Thus, the history of Holla Mollaha goes back to 1757 A.D.

Since then, Holla Mohalla has become a full fledged event held particularly in an open field near Holgarh Fort which is located in the northwest to the town of Anandpur. The Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara celebrates the festival at a huge scale. It is also believed to be started by Guru Gobind Singh where he accumulated all the Sikhs and encouraged them to perform various activities including Martial Arts etc.


Celebrations of Holla Mohalla

Every Indian festival has its own charm of festivity; the Holla Mohalla festival has no exception to it. In Holla Mohalla, people accumulate in Anandpur Sahib, and enjoy the day with singing bhajans and seeing the famous pegging competitions of archery, fencing, riding and traditional function of wrestling. Other than these sports activities, they also savor the taste of delicious langars which is organized by sewadars as per Sikh tradition.

Moreover, the Guru Granth Sahib is given the holy bath with milk and water after which kirtan and religious lectures take place in various gurudwara’s located in Punjab and various other places in India and abroad. After this ritual, Karah Prasad is distributed. Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar are provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteers take part in cooking the Prasad and also cleaning the utensils. Traditional cuisines are served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground.
The Nihangs are the highlights of this festival as they’re dressed in most impressive attire such as in deep blue robes with saffron girdles, high conical turbans decorated with steel rings, flowing beards, twisted moustaches and carry spears and swords as weapons for battle.
The other attractions of the Holla Mohalla celebrations are:
Wrestling: Started as a tradition by the followers of Guru Hargobindji within boundaries of Akal Takht Sahib and it is mostly his boost that wrestling as a sport made Punjab its birth place. Over 60 years ago, Grewal Sports Association had begun to give prices in this sport. However, today this sport is practiced in almost 7000 villages of Punjab.
The other sports activities on Holla Mohalla include Archery, Kabaddi, Weight-Lifting, Cycling, Football, Acrobatics and twisting an iron-rod by placing it on Adam’s apple, etc.
Thus, for all these games, various sports meet are also organized namely Kila Raipur Sports meet the Kalgidar Tournament of Kamalpur, Dhudike’s Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Sports Fair, Sahnewal, Mullanpur, Dahambo, etc are flourishing. Other than these there’re small sports meet such as, Lalto Kalan, Dhurkot, Rauni, Rurka Kalan,etc. . Locals however, like to size-up the skill and power of their animals by performing Bullockcart racing, Hound-Racing, Bull-Fighting, Cock-Fighting, Pigeon Fights.
Many other activities such as music competitions are also held during this occasion. Music is regarded to be the soul of Punjab and this is why it is practiced in each and every part of the state. But only the best ones are remembered among which the famous competitions are held between Karamjit Dhuri and Jagmohan Kaur.
All these festivities come to an end with a day long pageant, which starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib led by Panj Pyaras and passes through various important Gurudwara’s of the village.


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