Thousands of devotees converged on the Sikh holy town of Anandpur Sahib on Wednesday to take part in the Hola Mohalla festival of Sikhs.
It was a virtual sea of humanity of men, women and children near the main shrine, Takht Keshgarh Sahib, which holds significance in Sikhism. The three-day Hola Mohalla celebrations coincide with the Hindu festival of Holi.
All roads to the holy town, which is home to the second most important Sikh shrine after the ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar, had heavy vehicle movement with people coming in hordes on buses, trucks, tractor-trolleys and other vehicles.
Anandpur Sahib is located about 85 km from Chandigarh.
It was at this shrine that the 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh had in 1699 baptized five men and founded the Khalsa Panth, which is the modern-day Sikh religion.
The Hola Mohalla celebrations made its beginning around 1701 as Guru Gobind Singh wanted his troops to have mock battles to keep them battle-ready.
“Hundreds of Nihang Sikhs assemble in this religious town for the Hola Mohalla celebrations and show their prowess through the Gatka martial art,” Avtar Singh, a local resident, told IANS.
Leading political parties like the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, opposition Congress and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) organised their respective political conferences on the occasion.