INDIA FESTIVAL HOLLA MOHALLA
The ancient Sikh festival of Holla Mohalla is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, the day after Holi, and is a time for Sikhs to reaffirm their commitment to the brotherhood of man and their dedication to the Khalsa Pantha. Hola "Mohalla" derives its name from Punjabi word “Mohalla” implies an organized Procession in the form of an army column accompanied by war drums and standard-bearers, and proceeding to a given location or moving in state from one Gurdwara to another. It stretches on for three days. Holla Mohalla is also a community event uniting people in an atmosphere of caring and sharing. The festival also reminds of the gallantry of Sikhs who struggled with the enemies of the land. The festival begins with early morning prayers at the gurudwaras. People sing kirtans and perform kar seva. Other cultural activities are ceremoniously performed in the evening.
Colorful processions are organized on the occassion of Holla Mohalla, particularly in Anandpur Sahib and Muktsar(both in Indian Punjab). Sikhs, especially the Nihangs, dressed in their traditional martial costumes form part of the pageant.
Guru Grantha Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs is brought out with ceremony from its resting chamber and placed on the dais. Traditionally, it is always given a symbolic bath with milk and water.
Mock battles are also held followed by music,poetry and other competitions. The Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army founded by Guru Govind Singh) 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 speeding horses.
For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar are provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning utensils and other manual tasks that need to be carried out. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground. (Pangat)
HISTORY OF HOLLA MOHALLA
The history of Holla Mollaha dates back to 1757 A.D. It was first started on 1st March 1757 at Anandpur on Chet vadi. This custom was originated during the time of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) who held the first procession at Anandpur on Chet vadi. This was done to avert a grimmer struggle against imperial power following the battle of Ninnohgrah in 1700. Guru Sahib told his Sikhs wake up to their responsibility and duty as the Army of the Almighty to defend the truth and protect society. Since then, Holla Mohalla has become a full fledged event held particularly in an open field near Holgarh Fort which is located in the northwest to the town of Anandpur. It is also believed to be started by Guru Gobind Singh where he accumulated all the Sikhs and encouraged them to perform various activities including Martial Arts etc.
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