Holla Mahalla - March 15th
Holi is a festival celebrating the victory of the Saint Prahlaad over his evil aunt Holika who tried to burn him alive with order of Harnakaash. However the reasoning behind this festival had long been forgotten, even during the time of the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, it had become a meaningless day of throwing colour on each other. Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordered that his Khalsa would not celebrate Holi and instead introduced the tradition of HOLA MAHALLA. The literal meaning of Hola Mahalla is military exercises or manoeuvres.
Hola Mahalla was celebrated for the first time in the year after the birth of the Khalsa, 1700 AD and from then on has been celebrated every year in the fields of the Holgarh Fort at Anandpur Sahib.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji wanted to make his Khalsa army into a superior fighting force and so asked his followers to come together to have mock battles at the fort of Holgarh to learn the necessary fighting tactics that they would need in a real battle. The Khalsa armies would demonstrate their skills of horsemanship, soldiery, swordsmanship and archery. Each year thousands of Sikhs including large numbers of Nihang Singhs gather at Anandpur Sahib and take part in the procession from the fort of Holgarh to the fort of Fatehgarh. Fighting skills such as Gatka, Archery and Horsemanship are demonstrated as well as more modern sports
Gurbani points the true meaning of Holi :
|| laal rang tis ka-o lagaa jis kay vadbhaagaa. mailaa kaday na hova-ee nah laagai daagaa || (Ang 808 SGGS)
One is dyed in the color of the Lord's Love, by great good fortune. This color is never muddied; no stain ever sticks to it. ||1||
About Holi, Gurbani says
|| aaj hamaarai garihi basant. gun gaa-ay parabh tumH bay-ant ||1|| rahaa-o||
Today, it is springtime in my household. I sing Your Glorious Praises, O Infinite Lord God. ||1||Pause||
|| aaj hamaarai banay faag. parabh sangee mil khaylan laag ||
Today, I am celebrating the festival of Phalgun. Joining with God's companions, I have begun to play.
|| holee keenee sant sayv. rang laagaa at laal dayv. ||2||
I celebrate the festival of Holi by serving the Saints. I am imbued with the deep crimson color of the Lord's Divine Love. ||2||
|| man tan ma-uli-o at anoop. sookai naahee chhaav Dhoop.
saglee rootee hari-aa ho-ay. sad basant gur milay dayv. ||3|| (Ang 1180 SGGS)
My mind and body have blossomed forth, in utter, incomparable beauty. They do not dry out in either sunshine or shade; they flourish in all seasons. It is always springtime, when I meet with the Divine Guru. ||3||
Guruji knew that His Sikhs lived in a Society where Holi is celebrated with gusto. Guruji instructed His Sikhs what the true meaning of Holi should be. Rather than wasting time coloring each other externally we should concentrate on coloring our Souls with the True name of Waheguruji.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HOLA MAHALLA
Guru Gobind Singh Ji had a marvellous foresight; he wanted his Sikhs to have a strong soul, which we achieve by our prayers. He also wanted us to be physically fit and have a disciplined life and Hola can be taken as a symbol or a day, which would remind us that Sikhs need to be physically fit also.
Also, Guru Patshaah wanted us to seek for active forms of entertainment. When one is involved in horsemanship, soldiery, swordsmanship and archery or any other form of sport of today we are actively involved in it unlike the passive forms of entertainment like watching television, playing computer games.
Physical fitness flows from discipline skills. These skills include the ability to organize our life to meet our basic needs adequately, rest, diet, health, hygiene, exercise, reading, prayer, etc. It will help if we draw up an action programme for the acquisition of self-discipline skills. Two important moments of the day are when we get up in the morning and when we go to sleep. In the morning, when we are fresh from sleep, we can resolve to practice this self-discipline and at night we can ask ourselves an account of how have we practised them. Then we may resolve for the following day and go on disciplining ourselves.
Of course, some of you who are reading this are already doing all these because you are at a higher level of functioning and are trying to actualize your potential but this is just a humble effort to share some of my views with all of you.
For Sikhs this is what HOLA day signifies, to make our self externally and internally strong and not by merely wasting our life doing things that bear no fruits.
So, let all of us try to be Victorious by overcoming our evils, our own enemies Kaam, Krodh, Lob, Moh & Aanhkar.
|| kaam kroDh lobh moh jeetahu aisee khayl har pi-aaree|| (Ang 1185 SGGS)
Conquer sexual desire, anger, greed and worldly attachment; only such a game as this is dear to the Lord.
|| janam padaarath jin chali-aa naanak aa-i-aa so parvaan thi-aa. || (Ang 1007 SGGS)
Those who depart after having been victorious in this priceless human life - O Nanak, their coming into the world is approved.