Hola Mohalla is a three-day festival of bravery.
The Sikh holiday of Hola Mohalla (Hola) takes place during the first month of the lunar calendar, Chet. This most often occurs during the month of March and takes place a day after the Hindu festival that is called Holi. This unique holiday doesn’t just occur on one single day of the year; it is a three-day celebration that includes a wide variety of events.
The festival first appeared in its modern incarnation in the year 1701, when Guru Gobind Singh decided to start a celebration that would highlight aspects of the martial prowess of the people along with poetry contests. Full mock battles were waged, colors were thrown on the participants and audiences alike, and from then on the celebrations have grown. Originally, Hola took place at the town of Anandpur Sahib, but has since spread along with the other elements of the holiday celebration.
Many people will come and camp out at Anandpur Sahib or one of the other villages and towns that celebrate the holiday so they can celebrate for up to a week. The festival will begin with prayers in the early morning. Next, the Akhandapathas, Kirtans, Kar seva, and Shabads are performed, and the Karah Prasad is given to the congregation after it has been consecrated, leading up to the next section of the celebration.
At noon, people from all castes and walks of life will eat together at the guru ka langar until it is time for stories and poetry about Guru Govind Singh to be told to the crowds.
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From then, when the celebration is at its height, you will see many different things happening. For example, there are often parades of people dressed in colorful outfits that are traditional military outfits that have training in older forms of war. Expect to see contests in everything from archery to sword fighting, shooting, horse riding, and even the pegging of a tent. You’ll see some mock combat and even processions of horses and even elephants that are carrying older traditional weapons that go back three centuries to the founding of the holiday.
Overall, Hola Mohalla is an exciting holiday that has a rich history and continues to grow in popularity and interest across the region.