Holla Mohalla – A Celebration of Bravery!
Holla Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated annually in the month of Phalguna, a day after Holi. It is a weeklong festival which revolves around daytime demonstrations of ‘Gatka’, the Sikh martial art, and other military sports.
The origin of this festival dates back to Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of Sikhs. Guru was having his fight with both the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb as well as the Hill Rajputs and he had established the Khalsa Panth recently. On 22nd February, 1701, Guru Gobind Singh began a new tradition of overlooking a mock battles day as well as poetry contests organized at Holgarh Fort. This tradition since then got spread from Anandpur Sahib to the close by Kiratpur Sahib and further to foothills of Shivaliks and then other Gurudwaras of rest of the world.
The word Hola, an interchangeable phonetic short form of Holla, is a derivative of a Punjabi term meaning onset of attack or frontal assault. Mohalla has an Arabic root and is a description meaning an army battalion or military regiment marching in full regalia.
The events include Sikh worship services and ‘Kirtan’, the singing of hymns selected from Guru Granth Saheb. The grand finale at the end of the week is a martial arts and Nagar Kirtan parade. The festival usually takes place mid-March beginning on the first day of ‘Chet’, which is the start of the Sikh New Year according to the Nanakshi Calender.
The word Hola is a masculine variation of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, a licentious celebration which precedes Hola Mohalla by a day. Guru Gobind Singh introduced the martial festivities of Hola Mohalla to coincide with Holi.
In Punjab, Hola Mahalla is traditionally held annually in the city of Anandpur and is attended by Sikhs from all over India who throng to view the dashing feats of the ‘Nihang Warrior’ sect.