DID YOU KNOW . . . The Sikh Festival of Hola Mahalla

Today is the celebration of the festival of Hola Mahalla, a Sikh event which follows the Hindu festival of Holi and was derived from Hindu celebrations. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of northern India and eastern Pakistan, an area which is still considered the historical homeland of the Sikhs, although significant communities exist around the world.

The word “Hola is derived from the word halla (a military charge) and the term mohalla stands for an organized procession or an army column.

The event usually lasts for a week, and consists of camping out and enjoying various displays of fighting prowess and bravery, followed by kirtan, music, and poetry. For meals, which is an integral part of the Sikh institution known as Gurdwara, visitors sit together and eat vegetarian foods. The event concludes with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs.

This custom originated in the time of and by Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), an early Sikh leader, who held the first march at Anandpur, a major city in the Punjab region, on 22 February 1701.

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