| Encyclopaedia of Sikhism | 6 March 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Hola Mahalla or simply Hola, a Sikh festival, takes place on the first lunar month of Chet which usually falls in March. This follows the Hindu festival of Holi. The name Hola is masculine form of the feminine-sounding Holi.
Mahalla, derived form the Arabic root hal (alighting, descending), is a Punjabi word signifying an organised procession in the form of an army column accompanied by war-drums and standard-bearers and proceeding to a given spot or moving in state form one gurdwara to another. The custom originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) who held first such march at Anandpur on Chet wadi 1, 1757 Bk / 22 February 1701.
Unlike Holi during which people playfully sprinkle colour, dry or mixed in water, on each other, the Guru made it an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles. This was probably done forestalling a grimmer struggle against the imperial power following the battle of Nirmohgarh in 1700. Hola Mahalla became an annual tourney held in the open ground near Holdgarh Fort across the rivulet Charan Ganga, northwest of the town of Anandpur Sahib.
The popularity of this festival may be judged form the fact that out of the five Sikh public holidays requested by the Khalsa Diwan, Lahore, in 1889, government approved two – Hola Mahalia and the birth of Guru Nanak. The festival now has lost much of its original military significance, but Sikhs in large numbers still assemble at Anandpur Sahib on this day and an impressive and colourful procession is taken out in which the Nihangs in their traditional panoply form the vanguard, parading their skill in the use of arms as also at horsemanship and tent-pegging.
Mahalla on Maghi fair is also observed at Muktsar, sacred to Chali Mukte, and at Takht Sri Abchalnagar Hazur Sahib, in Maharashtra. At the latter place, the procession is leg by a white horse believed to a scion of the favourite blue-black stallion of Guru Gobind Singh. – By S. S, Vanjara Bedi (Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Punjabi University, Patiala)
ALSO SPELT AS: holla mahalla, holla mohalla
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Hola Mahalla – Encyclopaedia of Sikhism (Asia Samachar, 6 Mar 2015)