Holla Mohalla, or Hola Mohalla, is the festival of Punjab. Celebrated over three days, the festival retains the character of fun and enjoyment that Holi has embodied. In addition to this, it is also a community festival that brings people together in an atmosphere of sharing and caring.
It is also an occasion to remember the valor of the Sikhs in battling the enemies of the land. The festival day begins with early morning prayers at the Gurdwaras. The Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously taken out and bathed ritually with milk and water. Thereafter, it is placed on a platform and venerated.
Kirtans are sung, the prasad is consecrated and everyone shares a part of it. After the service, community lunch is served at the common hall. Evening is a time for numerous cultural activities. The Nihang Sikhs, who are part of the Sikh army that Guru Gobind Singh founded, exhibit their martial skills and daring through mock battles, sword-fighting displays, archery and horse-riding exercises. The Nihangs also splash color on the spectators, and everyone follows suit. Stories and songs about the life, valor and wisdom of the ten Sikh gurus, right from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, are told and recited.
Music, dance and poetry programs and competitions are held at many venues. A procession is carried through the important Gurdwaras in town marking the highlights of the last day celebrations. Holla Mohalla, while being an occasion to rejoice, is also a time to restore faith in the Khalsa Panth and rededicate oneself to the service of the community. Everyone, irrespective of their social standing, involves themselves in kar seva – manual labor, such as helping in the langars or public kitchens, cleaning the Gurdwaras and washing dishes.