By Gurinder Kaur
1. Hola Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated in the Bikrami month of Phalgun. It has nothing to do with Holi except that Hola falls on the day next to Holi.
2. The word ‘Hola’ has been derived from halla meaning attack and hence Mohalla for the place of attack – Holgarh in Anandpur Sahib.
3. Hola Mohalla was started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles to train the army.
4. It is an occasion for the Sikhs to re-affirm their commitment to Khalsa Panth.
5. The first Hola Mohalla was celebrated in AD 1670 a year after the birth of the Khalsa Panth.
6. The celebrations of Hola Mohalla are still centred at Anandpur Sahib and have a considerable element of the mock battles in the form of Gatka, mock fighting on horseback, dagger play and more demonstrated by the Nihang Singhs who flock to Anandpur Sahib in large numbers.
7. Holla Mohalla is celebrated for three-days that implies an organised procession (Nagar Kirtan) 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.
8. Today Hola Mohalla has grown into a huge fair and attracts people from all over the country and the world to participate or watch this Khalsayee festival.
9. At the Hola Mohalla, one can observe Langar at close quarters from different Sikh congregations welcoming pilgrims and visitors irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.
10. Last but not the least, Holla Mohalla is a sense of liberated living that can be felt in the energetic expressions of Nihangs riding their horses at high speeds, while performing acrobatics on the horse backs.