“Jagg di Holi te sadda Hola (Holi for the world but hola for us)…”
As the lilting voice of a dhadi jatha singing these words engulf you get intrigued about the link between the Holi, the Indian festival of colours and Hola Mohalla.
“Mohalla” is a Punjabi word that means an organised procession and “Hola” is masculine for Holi. Back in the 1700s when Guru Gobind Singh Ji founded the Khalsa (an army of warriors), he started holding a sports day to see the war preparedness of his army and reward the outstanding warriors.
Since then, this day became an annual event where all the warriors would come and showcase their martial skills, be a part of the cultural magnificence and celebrate brotherhood amongst the community.
All Photographs: Priya Goswami
Magnificence of the procession
At the Hola Mohalla festival, along with the colour play, there is a grand procession led by the Nihangs performing gatka (mock battles) from one Gurudwara to another finally reaching the mela ground (Charan Ganga Stadium). It looks no less than a military-style procession with horse riders; stand bearers and war drums- a magnificent sight to behold!
The ground gets full of the audience cheering and the performers showcasing their martial arts and horse riding skills. A beautiful celebration of bravery and brotherhood.
There follows a remarkable event of tent-pegging and horse-riding. The Nihang riders gallop bareback, riding astride two horses and sometimes four horses in a row.
You will be enthralled, in awe and high on adrenaline, all at once!