It’s Holla, not Holi!

Holla Mohallah
Anandpur Sahib

The Holla Mohalla festival is an impressive traditional display of bravery and valour by the Nihang warriors that is a must see.

One of the main attractions at the festival; the Nihang Warriors – are a prestigious armed sect of the Sikhs who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with thick twisted moustaches and overwhelmingly large and embellished turbans.

The ultimate display of machismo – Holla Mohalla, an annual Sikh festival held a day after Holi, has the drama, the sweat and the incredible colours that Indian festivals are known for. With impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling, there’s also music, poetry and prayers, singing and chanting. An important part of the festival is the langar (community food) that is served to pilgrims irrespective of their religion or caste.

The Nihang Warriors also demonstrate thrilling horse riding shows where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks such as riding astride two horses, racing etc.

Holla Mohalla is held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, and it is estimated that over 100,000 Sikh devotees attend the festival.
 
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On this three-day grand festival, the main attraction are the mock battles, exhibitions, display of weapons, kirtan (religious music) and poetry competitions.

Langars or voluntary community kitchens are also a big part of the festival which is organized by the local people as a part of sewa /community service. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning utensils or other manual tasks that need to be carried out as a way of paying obeisance. Simple traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground.

There are also a number of Gurudwara’s where kirtans and religious lectures take place. On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important Gurudwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji Qila Anandgarh, LohgarhSahib, Mata Jitoji and ends at the Takhat (Keshgarh).

Holla Mohalla is an amazing, incredible, and a vivid festival. The impact of seeing the Nihang warriors in their purely physical towering forms is overwhelming, plus it’s delightful to watch small children on horses who stride around confidently and with élan.
 
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Route Your Trip:

Anandpur Sahib is about 1 ½ hrs drive/ 90 Kms from Chandigarh, which is very well connected from Delhi and other major cities by Air, Road and Rail.

We took around 07 hrs to reach Anandpur Sahib from Delhi with two stops.

Stay:

Kikar Lodge is one of the best places to stay at Anandpur.
There are also some basic hotels and guesthouses to stay here like Hotel Simran, Holy City, Kisan Haveli etc.
Chandigarh is of course on option, which has hotels ranging from the luxurious Taj to the basic 2 star hotels.

Essentials:

  • Partake of the holy feast
  • Visit the various small and big Gurudwaras
  • Enjoy the skillful displays of competitive horse-riding games
  • A long lens like 70-200 mm will be great to shoot the festival

2 thoughts on “It’s Holla, not Holi!

  1. Just came across your lovely blog. Every year I tell myself I am going to attend the Holla Mohalla, and every year there is an important job that keeps us away. Hopefully next year we are not going to miss it!

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