Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Holi is celebrated as Hola Mohalla by the Nihang Sikhs. Instead of splashing colour, they observe the day with mock battles, tournaments, military parades and many other exercises. Anandpur, a small town in the Punjab, becomes the hub of all these activities, for it is here that the Khalsa (the 'Pure Ones') was born.
About 280 years ago, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, held a very significant ceremony at Anandpur. He baptised five chosen followers of his and gave them the appellation of Singh ('the Lion'). They were enjoined to carry, on their person five symbols of distinction—kesh (long hair), kanga (comb), kara (iron bracelet), kacha (shorts) and kirpan (sword). He hailed them with a new greeting:
'Wahe Guruji ka Khalsa : Wahe Guruji ki feteh'
(The Khalsa belongs to the Guru; Victory be to Him).
These five followers, called Panj Piyare, then baptised the Guru himself and thousands of other Sikhs. Thus was born the Khalsa, a militant brotherhood of crusaders. The Nihangs — meaning 'crocodiles' in Persian — formed the suicide squads of the Khalsa armies. The Guru ordained that the day after Holi be celebrated as Hola for practising the martial arts.
The above tradition continues to this day. Around the middle of March, Anandpur begins to hum with activity. The Nihangs, who number about 20,000 today, flock to Anandpur for the festival. They can be easily recognised by their blue knee-length tunics and yellow
turbans, rising to more than a metre high, with rings of steel around them. They carry huge spears, daggers, swords, and even bows and arrows. They lead a spartan life, denying themselves the comforts of family life or a fixed home, and are constantly on the move, either on horse-back or on foot.
On Hola day, a procession (Mohalla) is taken out through the streets of Anandpur. The Nihangs form the centre of attraction. Under the influence of bhang and hashish, which they consume in large quantities, these bearded fighters offer an awesome spectacle—galloping their horses at full speed, flashing swords and shouting their war cry, 'Sat Sri Akal'. There are langars (free kitchens) for all visitors, without distinction.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon