Hola Mahalla or simply Hola is a Sikh festival that takes place on the first of the lunar month of Chet which usually falls in March. This, by a tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh, follows the Hindu festival of Holi by one day; Hola is the masculine form of the feminine sounding Holi.
The word “Mohalla” is derived from the Arabic root hal (alighting, descending) and is a Punjabi word that implies an organized procession in the form of an army column. But unlike Holi, when people playfully sprinkle colored powder, dry or mixed in water, on each other, the Guru made Hola Mohalla an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles.
Together the words “Hola Mohalla” stands for “mock fight”. During this festival, processions are organised in the form of army type columns accompanied by war-drums and standard-bearers and proceeding to a given spot or moving in state from one gurdwara to another. The custom originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh who held the first such mock fight event at Anandpur in February 1701.
On this three-day grand festival, mock battles, exhibitions, display of weapons, etc., are held followed by kirtan, music and poetry competitions. The participants perform daring feats, such as (mock encounters with real weapons), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses and various other feats of bravery.
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