A Reflection on Hola Mohalla

Photo by Gaurav Agrawal via Flickr Creative Commons.


This article was originally published by SikhNet. It was written by Ramneet Kaur. 

Hola Mohalla is a Sikh festival which is celebrated with great zeal and zest by the Sikh nation. Hola Mohalla is celebrated at the birthplace of the Khalsa, Sri Anandpur Sahib, with religious ceremonies.

It is a tradition started by the tenth master, Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj, to instill courage and strength in the common people who were in low spirits at that time. Guru Gobind Singh gave new form to the old festival of Holi to boost the morale of the Sikh nation to fight against the atrocious rulers of that time, and in 1701 the tradition of Hola Mohalla was established.

It was started as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi at Anandpur Sahib. Till this date this festival is celebrated with the same tradition, and it reminds people of valour and defence preparedness of those times. In this festival mock battles, exhibitions, displays of weapons, etc., are held followed by kirtan, music and poetry competitions.

Participants perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses and various other feats of bravery. The atmosphere there is very vibrant and uplifting and everyone seems to enjoy the festival.

Holi Kini Sant Sev
Rang Laga Aat Laal Dev

In this verse Guru Arjan Dev Ji is reciting that “after keeping the company of God-conscious people, I have developed the realization and love for Divine Naam. As I am in love with the Lord, now my mind is playing Holi of permanent colors which never fade. All my doubts, anguish and adversities have disappeared and I am in total and eternal peace, bliss and gaiety. I am rejoicing and playing Holi in the eternal colors of the divine love.”

Jaisa Rang Kusambh Ka Taisa Yeh Sansar
Mere Ramiya Rang Majith Ka Keh Ravidas Chamar

In another verse, Bhagat Ravi Das Ji also describes the divine love as a permanent color which brightens his life permanently, unlike other loves of this world which are ephemeral.

The festival of Hola Mohalla gives us a great message that we should all try to fill our lives with Divine love which is permanent and never changes, and always gives eternal peace, bliss and equipoise, unlike other loves of this world which are mere entanglements and give pain.


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