Hola Mohalla is an annual Sikh festival, celebrated extensively over three days mainly at the Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara, in the state of Punjab.
The festival dates back to the 18th century, when guru Gobind Singh, the last of the 10 Sikh gurus, created an occasion for Sikhs to show off their martial arts skills and host mock battles. Today, Sikh communities commemorate the holiday by hosting martial arts parades, taking part in devotional worship, singing and community outreach efforts.
It is a martial fair that was introduced by Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, to fortify the Sikh community by carrying out martial training and mock-drills, along with religious discussions.
The festivities of Hola Mohalla begin by visiting the gurudwaras for early morning prayers. Durbars are held and the Guru Granth Sahib is read. Kirtans and religious lectures are carried out and after the religious ceremonies are over, the ‘prasad’ is distributed among the people.
The evening is filled with a lot of anticipation and thrill, as martial members of the Sikh community (Nihang Sikhs) display their physical strength through daring acts like mock-battles (Gatka), sword-fighting displays, archery and exercising on speeding horses.
They also splatter colours on the audience. This is followed by cultural activities including music, dance and poetry programs and competitions to unwind the charged up atmosphere. A procession is set out on the last day, and the Panj Pyaras walk in front crossing all the major gurudwaras in that area. Hola Mohalla is the time to celebrate and dedicate oneself into community service. ‘Langars’ are organised, and local people come forward to help by arranging the raw materials for the langar, cleaning the gurudwaras, and washing the dishes.
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