Hola Mohalla: Testimony to Courage and valour


India’s rich culture and heritage, which is an all-embracing confluence of beliefs, traditions, and rituals remain unparalleled. Holi, the vibrant celebration is just around the corner. This event can be described as smeared in colours but there’s more to it than that! Although the celebrations and joy appear to be the same across the country, several states enjoy it in a unique way.

One such celebration is Holla Mohalla, a Sikh festival started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles which is celebrated on the first of the lunar month of Chaitra that generally falls in the month of March. The name itself stands for a riot of martial skills. Mohalla has its origin in the Arabic root “hal” and finds a place in Punjabi as an organized procession resembling an army march. Therefore, being organised along with the Holi, this was called Hola Mohalla.

It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness as India at that time was under the oppression of the Mughal invaders and this event in history has sparked a surge of patriotism and courage among masses, allowing them to stand up to Aurangzeb’s oppression .

Celebration of Holla Mohalla

Khalsa pant was established in the year 1699. The soldiers were designated “Akal Purakh ki Fauj”, Army of the Immortal. To inculcate pride in the newly created army, mock drills were organized and Hola Mohalla thus became a tradition for the display of such skills.

True to his words “चिडि़यों से मै बाज तड़ाऊं। सवा लाख से एक लड़ाऊं। तभी गोबिंद सिंह नाम कहाऊं।”, Guru Gobind Singh ensured that his army was prepared for any upcoming wars.

Since 1701, the historical township of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab has celebrated this festival with martial arts displays. Since then, this has become a tradition and mock battles are held followed by music and poetry competitions. Colorful processions are organized on Holla Mohalla. The martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding and daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses are performed. Even for people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service).

During Guru Gobind Singh’s twenty-five-year stay in the city, he built six forts, including the Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Qila Anandgarh, Qila Fatehgarh, Qila Holgarh, Qila Lohgarh, and Qila Taragarh for the city’s defence.

The event begins with early morning prayers in the gurdwaras. Akhandapathas, Kar seva, Shabads and Kirtans are performed. Stories are narrated about the bravery of Guru Gobind Singh in prose and verse. It is an occasion for the Sikhs to reaffirm their commitment to the Khalsa Panth and to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood and reminding people of valour and defence preparedness. The festivities culminate at the Holgarh Fort. The Hola Mahalla festival is unique in that the Nihang have tried to uphold the traditional structure and ethos set by the Tenth Guru at the time of its establishment.

Hola Mohalla: Testimony to Courage and valour

India’s rich culture and heritage, which is an all-embracing confluence of beliefs, traditions, and rituals remain unparalleled. Holi, the vibrant celebration is just around the corner. This event can be described as smeared in colours but there’s more to it than that! Although the celebrations and joy appear to be the same across the country, several states enjoy it in a unique way.

One such celebration is Holla Mohalla, a Sikh festival started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles which is celebrated on the first of the lunar month of Chaitra that generally falls in the month of March. The name itself stands for a riot of martial skills. Mohalla has its origin in the Arabic root “hal” and finds a place in Punjabi as an organized procession resembling an army march. Therefore, being organised along with the Holi, this was called Hola Mohalla.

It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness as India at that time was under the oppression of the Mughal invaders and this event in history has sparked a surge of patriotism and courage among masses, allowing them to stand up to Aurangzeb’s oppression .

Celebration of Holla Mohalla

Khalsa pant was established in the year 1699. The soldiers were designated “Akal Purakh ki Fauj”, Army of the Immortal. To inculcate pride in the newly created army, mock drills were organized and Hola Mohalla thus became a tradition for the display of such skills.

True to his words “चिडि़यों से मै बाज तड़ाऊं। सवा लाख से एक लड़ाऊं। तभी गोबिंद सिंह नाम कहाऊं।”, Guru Gobind Singh ensured that his army was prepared for any upcoming wars.

Since 1701, the historical township of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab has celebrated this festival with martial arts displays. Since then, this has become a tradition and mock battles are held followed by music and poetry competitions. Colorful processions are organized on Holla Mohalla. The martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding and daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses are performed. Even for people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service).

During Guru Gobind Singh’s twenty-five-year stay in the city, he built six forts, including the Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Qila Anandgarh, Qila Fatehgarh, Qila Holgarh, Qila Lohgarh, and Qila Taragarh for the city’s defence.

The event begins with early morning prayers in the gurdwaras. Akhandapathas, Kar seva, Shabads and Kirtans are performed. Stories are narrated about the bravery of Guru Gobind Singh in prose and verse. It is an occasion for the Sikhs to reaffirm their commitment to the Khalsa Panth and to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood and reminding people of valour and defence preparedness. The festivities culminate at the Holgarh Fort. The Hola Mahalla festival is unique in that the Nihang have tried to uphold the traditional structure and ethos set by the Tenth Guru at the time of its establishment.