India is one of the ancient lands of culture and heritage thus claiming to be one of the finest resources in the study of world culture. It depicts the versatility and essence of culture irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. It is evident from the variety of festivals celebrated every year. Hence “festivals” play a key role to ignite the richness and flavor of the occasion. Different kinds of festivals for numerous occasions are celebrated all over the country having their own individuality. Each festival reflects tradition and heritage of the caste or tribe or religion from which they originate. People from all over the country participate in each kind of festivals sharing the brotherhood among them. Festival is a kind of bond which links all religions and regions of the country, redefining their unity and secularity in this modern era.
The Sikh religion commonly termed as Sikhism is one of the eminent religions of India. It portrays toughness, discipline, ability right from their origin. This is evident from the various Gatka (martial arts) teams, which started to come into existence way back in the seventeenth century under the guidance and supervision of Guru Gobind Singh. The religion is itself a symbol of historical heritage and is still one of the leading in India. Sikhism also throws light to secularism, integrity and equality which were initially brought in the limelight by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Sahib.
Sikh community celebrates a number of festivals in which one of the important characteristic Sikh festivals is none other than Hola Mohalla. This festival reveals the discipline, power, and art they possess. This festival was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh in February 1701.Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab was the holy location were this festival was first started by this tenth Sikh Guru.The festival takes place one day prior to Holi.The concept behind this festival was to give a masculine touch to the so called feminine festival Holi.To transform the festival various “mock fights” were arranged which is the main theme of Hola Mohalla.This “mock fight” was designed like a war type scenario in which people would arrange themselves in army formation with Gatka teams, war drums, and this processions proceeds from gurdwaras.Holla Mohalla is a three day occasion in which presentations of martial arts, mock fights, weapon arts are performed followed by singing of hymns, sayings, kirtan (devotional songs) , musical competitions. Various competitions are arranged for devotees to show their masculine martial arts in stick fights, hand fights, wrestlings and other warlike sports. The competitors are traditionally known as Akalis or Nihngas which are the terms referred to Guru’s knights and fighters. This three day festival was an annual feature which combined all Sikh devotees and followers together. Innumerous people from all over the country gathered at this holy location to witness the essence and flavor of the occasion.
Hola Mohalla is one of the most awaited festivals among Sikh community. This craze has finally compelled the government to declare this event as a national festival. This honor reveals the ability of Hola Mohalla to be one of the outstanding exhibitions of skill and art at national level.