Hola Mohalla Festival

By Sanjeev Nayyar [email protected] | 2014

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Hola Mohalla is a 3 day festival ie celebrated around Holi in the town of Anandpur in Punjab. People come from all parts of Punjab and other parts of India. U see devotees on Hola Mohalla day outside the historic Sri Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara. To see pics of Gurdawara Click Here

Devotees come in truck trolleys (like what u see), tractors, trucks and motor cycle. Note how long this trolley is. Devotees leave their luggage in one of the many restrooms, have food at the langar and either sleep in the trolley or restrooms. "Hola is derived from the word halla (a military charge) and the term mohalla stands for an organized procession or an army column. The words ''Hola Mohalla'' would thus stand for ''the charge of an army.''"

White structure is Sri Keshgarh Sahib where Khalsa was born. In front is the Holy Sarovar (similar to one at Amritsar) where devotees have a dip before going for darshan (matha tekna) at Keshgarh Sahib.

Left is Anandgarh Sahib Gurudwara. Right red painted structure is a small fort. It is the point where the 10th Sikh Guru hit the ground with an arrow and water came out. To this day water flows from that spot. U see devotees in line to enter fort. Many of them carry small bottles and fill it with water to take home.

Keshgarh Sahib and Anandgarh Sahib stand on a hill. The two of them are joined by a road that you see. Left centre of pic u see tractor trolley - covered is an eg of how devotees use it to sleep.This festival was started by Guru Govind Singhji on 22/2/1701 by overseeing a day of mock battles to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles. It is for this reason that GATKA forms an important part of the festival.

Opposite Sri Keshgarh Sahib (few minutes walk) is this huge hall where devotees sleep.

In langars small boys would invite devotees to eat at their langar, the word used come have ''prasada''. Boys speak virtually non-stop, give the menu and tempt devotees to eat at their langar, considered a privilege. Boys got a bit conscious as I clicked.

There was a huge open area where number of Nihang groups live in tents. In one such tent you see a Nihang reciting what I think is from the Adi Granth. In the centre are weapons that displayed for worship.

On the eve Hola Mohalla huge crowds had gathered at Sri Keshgarh Sahib. Inside the Gurduwara kirtan was going on that you see - with large number of devotees listening some with eyes open others closed meditating.

On Holi day, Nihang games, at Sri Kesgarh Sahib, go on from say 8.30 am to 12.30 pm. Then there is a procession from here to the Charanganga stadium. Procession led by Panj Pyares or 5 Beloves ones (they were the first five to accept Khalsa). U see them in procession from Keshgarh Sahib now walking to Anandgarh Sahib.

U see 5 men represent the 5 beloved ones. Their original names are Dayaram, a Khatri from Lahore + Dharamdas, a Jat (born Hastinapur near Meerut, U.P.) + Sahib Chand a barber of Hoshiarpur district (born Bidar, Karnataka), Himmat Chand Kahar water-carrier of Sangatpura in Patiala district (born in Puri, Orissa) and lastly Mohkam Chand Chhimba of Buria in Ambala district (born in Dwarka, Gujarat).

On the road from Keshgarh to Anandgarh Nihang displaying their fighting qualities. To see pics of GATKA games at Anandpur Click here

The procession is led by a band. Its name is Maharaja Band Lahore.

We walked down the steps of Anandgarh Sahib towards road, you see devotees playing with Holi colors.

Procession now moves to the road. It consists of elephants (that you see), horses, warriors on foot, SUV''s, devotees and police. I got into one vehicle - gave me a good view of the procession.

Nihang on a horse. There are different groups of Nihang warriors who had come for Hola Mohalla.

This group is on foot. We are now in market of Anandpur (city of bliss).

This warrior head in a SUV. Swords and guns commonly seen.

This warrior head is a horse surrounded by his group ka warriors.

Procession has devotees on roads, homes and building tops as you can see on both sides of the pic. Man on right of pic with lady cops is an aging warrior with perhaps the second biggest turban that I saw during 2014 Hola Mohalla festival.

Devotees sit on top of buses and watch procession.

Devotees on all floors of the building, beginning to the end, witness the procession. It passes thru important Gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at Keshgarh.

As the procession moves on, devotees drive towards the Charanganga Stadium. This pic gives u an idea of the festive mood at Anandpur during Hola Mohalla.

A Nihang group heading towards the stadium.

It is not a stadium like a cricket one but has some stands (actually mud at a higher level). U see a group of Nihangs with their leader on the horse.

This is an occasion to display your weapons. This is a modern day machine - u see arrows on left of pic.

Speaker treats every head of each Nihang Group with respect, says good things and then request them to sit on the stage as you see. U see Chiefs of different warrior clans.B105

A young boy dressed as a Nihang with a TV cameraman reporting on the festival. During GATKA games this child was the cynosure of all attention. To read a very good travelogue and see lovely pics of the festival Click here

This gives you an overview of crowds at the finale function. It is a large ground. U see people on hill and roof tops. I climbed on to a bus to take this pic. Wish the Govt made a proper stadium where this part of the festival is celebrated. Shall be more organised n will attract from tourists from India and abroad. Some part of captions taken from Wikipedia.

A section of the crowd who had come to watch the finale. Best part is seeing Nihangs on their horses as you shall see later. To know more about Hola Mohalla Click here

This man is standing on two horses. To see some great pics of horse riding during Hola Mohalla Click here

Man flying with two horses. They start from one end of the ground and then speed up. While doing so their direction changes, you could be standing aiming to click and suddenly the horse is so close to you that could be hit. Something similar happened to me - got saved since a noble soul pulled me back. To see pics of Naina Devi Mandir Click here

This time it is three. In case of any errors in captions do mail me and will correct. To see pics of People of Anandpur Sahib Click here

Horse moves in the centre with people on both sides - we were perpetually trying to stay from horses who went by at high speed. To see pics of Golden Temple Amritsar Click here

Early evening back side of Sri Keshgarh Sahib. Something special and powerful about Keshgarh Sahib. Wish Ishwar sends me there again. To see pics of Hampi Festival Click here

Entrance to Nada Sahib Gurudwara at Panchkula, Haryana. Understand it is the most respected Gurudwara in Haryana. U see a dear friend and wife, daughter in the pic. The trip to Hola Mohalla was a success because of his support. To see pics of Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh Click here