Holla Mohalla is celebrated one day after Holi, on the first chet month. Recently, the Indian Government has accorded Holla Mohalla national festival status.
It was started by Guru Gobind Singh ji 10th, Sikh guru at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood and reminding people of “valor and defense preparedness,” concepts very dear to the the guru.
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. Thus, Holla Mohalla is celebrated following Holi.
What is the event like?
Colorful processions are organized on the occasion of Holla Mohalla, particularly in Anandpur Sahib and Muktsar (both in Indian Punjab). Sikhs, especially the Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army founded by Guru Gobind Singh) very famous and prestigious armed Sikh order, dress in traditional martial costumes form part of the pageant.
Mock battles are also held followed by music, poetry and other competitions. portray their skills with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. The Nihang Singhs also perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two racing horses. It’s quite an epic event!
There are also a number of durbars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. Sporting shining swords, long spears, conical turbans, the Nihangs present a fierce picture as they gallop past on horseback spraying colors on people.On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takth 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 Takth.
For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, locals organized voluntary community kitchens called langar as a component of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar is provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning the utensils. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrim who eat while sitting in rows on the ground