Holla Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated in the month of Phalguna, a day after
Holi. Its origin dates back to 1757 AD. Guru Govind Singh, the tenth guru of the
Sikhs and a reformative leader, felt that Holi, the festival of color and happiness,
had lost its original meaning over the years. It was no longer a celebration to
reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood but had become an occasion for general mayhem.
He decided to revive the spirit of Holi and weave its essence into a festival
created to rejuvenate and restore Khalsa traditions. Called Holla Mohalla, the
guru declared that it would be observed on the day after Holi. As is customary
in Sikh festivals, prayers at the gurdwaras begin early in the morning.The Guru
Grantha Sahib is brought out with ceremony from its resting chamber and placed
on the dais. It is given a symbolic bath with milk and water.
Verses from its pages are then recited, akhandapathas are performed, kar seva
is offered and shabads and kirtans are sung all day long. The Karah Prasad is
distributed to the congregation, after the guru has consecrated it. At noon, men
and women from all castes and creed sit and eat together at the guru ka langar.
Volunteers performing kar seva cook the food.
Many colorful processions are organized on Holla Mohalla, particularly in Anandpur
Sahib and Muktsar. Sikhs (especially the Nihangs) dressed in their traditional
martial costumes form part of the pageant. They display their skills in archery,
sword fencing, horse riding and shooting in competitions. Battles are enacted
and ancient cannons fired to focus on the training required for war.
Homage is paid to the bravery of Guru Govind Singh, by narrating stories about
his life in prose and verse. Tribute is also accorded to Guru Har Govind, who
led his army to free 52 captive kings from the Gwalior jail in 1612 AD.
On Holla Mohalla, the Sikhs reaffirm their commitment to the brotherhood of man
and their dedication to the Khalsa Pantha.