World ? Asia ? India

Holla Mohalla

12 Mar 2009 (annual)
Hours: All day
Cost: Free
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.
Back in 1757, when the tenth Guru Govind Singh was around, it was felt that Holi - the festival of colour and happiness - had lost its original meaning amidst growing decadence and mayhem. Not one to tolerate such behaviour, the reformist Guru decided to re-establish the essence of Holi while restoring the Khalsa traditions. The result was the Holla Mohalla.

Many colourful processions mark this festival, and they are particularly spectacular in Anandpur, Sahib and Muktsar. Sikhs dress up in traditional martial costumes (especially the Nihangs or the "Order of the Blue-Clad Farmer-Warriors") and celebrate the day with competitions in archery, fencing, horse riding and shooting. In some areas, battles are re-enacted and cannons fired as a salutary reminder of the traditional warring trait of the Sikh religion. Although clearly a spectacular performance, watching is a risky affair... these men battle hard, even in jest!
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