Sunday, March 29, 2009


Hola Mahalla (also Hola Mohalla or simply Hola) is a Sikh festival which begins on the first day of the lunar month of Chet in the Nanakshahi calendar. It most often falls in March, and sometimes coincides with the Sikh New Year. The festival lasts for a week, and consists of camping out and enjoying various displays of fighting prowess and bravery, followed by kirtan, music, and poetry. For meals, visitors sit on the ground in neat rows called pangats and eat vegetarian Langars provided by volunteers. The festival concludes with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five most sacred places in Sikhism. 

Bhai Kahan Singh, who compiled the Mahan Kosh (the first Sikh encyclopedia) at the turn of the 20th century, explained, "Hola is derived from the word halla (a military charge) and the term mohalla stands for an organized procession or an army column. The words 'Hola Mohalla' would thus stand for 'the charge of an army.'" Dr. M.S. Ahluwalia notes that the related Punjabi term mahalia (which was derived from the Arabic root hal, meaning to alight or descend) refers to "an organized procession in the form of an army column accompanied by war drums and standard-bearers, and proceeding to a given location or moving in state from one Gurdwara to another." 

Hola is a masculine term, meant to be distinguished from the more feminine Holi; the Hindu spring festival of Holi takes place the day before Hola Mahalla. Hola may have been originally created to distract Sikhs from Holi, which is also known as the Festival of Colours and commonly considered the most energetic of Indian festivals. 


The event was originated by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru. The Guru was in the midst of fighting both Aurangzeb of the Mughal Empire and the Hill Rajputs, and had recently established the Khalsa Panth fighting force. On February 22, 1701, Guru Gobind Singh started a new tradition by overseeing a day of mock battles and poetry contests at Holgarh Fort. The tradition has since spread from the town of Anandpur Sahib to nearby Kiratpur Sahib and the foothills of the Shivaliks, and to other Gurdwaras around the world. 

Nihang Singhs

 The Nihang Singhs are the modern day descendents of Guru Gobind Singh's army, and are unique among Sikh orders for being military in nature and for the distinctive rich blue of their traditional robes and large turbans, which are often embellished. Today, these "ascetic warriors" are prominent figures at Hola Mahalla : they still carry traditional weapons, and "are skilled at tent-pegging, gatka or fencing, jousting and other war-like sports." They are also proficient at horseback-riding stunts and archery.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Gurupurbs are anniversaries associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus. Sikhs celebrate 10 Gurpurbs in a year, each one honoring the ten gurus of the Khalsa Pantha. Of these the important ones are the birthdays of Guru Nanak and Guru Govind Singh and the martyrdom days of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur.

The Prabhat Pheris, early morning religious processions that goes around localities singing shabads (hymns), start three weeks before the festival. Devotees offer sweets and tea when the procession passes their homes. Gurpurabs also mark the culmination of Prabhat Pheris. The Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) is read continuously from beginning to end without a break for three days. This is known as akhand path. It is concluded on the day of the festival. The Granth Sahib is also carried in procession on a float decorated with flowers. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Local bands play religious music and marching schoolchildren form a special part of the procession.

Sweets and community lunches are offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith. They are given with a spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion). Sikhs visit gurdwaras, where special programmes are arranged and (religious songs) sung. Houses and gurudwaras are lit up for the festivities. 

Guru Gobind Singh forged the distinctive identity of the Sikhs, called them Khalsa (the pure) and made it mandatory for them to have the five Ks: Kesh (hair), Kripan (dagger), Kada (bracelet), Kangha (comb) and Kachcha (underwear). Guru Arjan Dev was burned at the stake in the hot months of May and June, and Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded in Delhi.

The birthday celebrations and Gurpurbs of Guru Sahibs usually last for three days. Generally before the birthday-date Akhand Path is held in the Gurdwara. A large procession (Nagarkirtan) is organised one day before the birthday. This is led by the Panj Piyaras (Five beloved ones) and the Palki (Palanquin) of Shri Guru Granth Sahib and followed by groups of kirtani Jatha, Various School bands and students, eminent Citizens, Gatka Parties (displaying mock-battle with the traditional weapons), and devotees singing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib in chorus. The passage of the nagarkirtan is decorated with flags, flowers, religious posters decorated gates and banners depicting various aspects of Sikhism. On the Gurpurab day, the Divan begins in early morning about 4 or 5 a.m. with the singing of Asa-di-var and hymns from Guru Granth Sahib. Sometimes it is followed by katha (discourse), religious and Sikh Historical lectures and recitation of poems in praise of the Guru. Kirtan-Darbars and Amrit Sanchar ceremonies are also held in the Gurdwara hall. After Ardas and distribution of Karah Parshad (sweet pudding) the Langar (food) is served to one and all and there is kirtan till late in the night, the distribution of langar continues to the end of the programme.

Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib

Guru Nanak's jayanti falls in the month of Kartik (October / November). Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak brought enlightenment to the world. Thus the festival is also called Prakash Utsav, the festival of light.

Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born in 1469 in a Punjabi village now located in Pakistan. Always secular in his outlook, he even organized a canteen where Muslims and Hindus of all castes could come and eat together. It is believed that in Sultanpur he had a vision from God, directing him to preach to mankind.

Guru Nanak Sahib (the First Nanak, the founder of Sikhism) was born on 15 April 1469 at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present district of Shekhupura (Pakistan), now Nanakana Sahib. The birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib falls on Kartik Puranmashi i.e. full moon day of the month Kartik. On this day the birthday is celebrated every year. The Shrine (Gurdwara) repsesenting the home of Baba Kalu (Father) and Mata Tripta (Mother) is called Gurdwara Janam Asthan, situated at Rai-Bhoi-di-Talwandi in the present district of Shekhupura (now Nanakana Sahib in Pakistan). The Sikhs from all over the world gather here and celebrate the Gurupurab every year with great devotion and enthusiasm.

Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib

Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the tenth Nanak was born at Patna Sahib on December 22, 1666, (Poh Sudi Saptmi). His birthday generally falls in December or January or sometimes twice within a year as it is calculated according to Hindu Bikrami Calendar based on moon-year. S. Pal Singh Purewal of Canada prepared a new calendar which is called the "Nanakshahi Calendar" based on the solar year. According to this calendar the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib falls only once in a year i.e. on 5 January. But the implementation of the Nanakshahi Calendar has been postponed. Actually The Nanakshahi Calendar has been in effect now for three years. SGPC- Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee-[Main Sikh Religious/Political Body] has sanctioned the calendar with exceptions to the dates of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji's birthday and Diwali due to both events also loved by Hindus and Guru Nank Sahib Ji's birthday is major movement from Novemebr to April.

Guru Arjan's martyrdom day

Guru Arjan's martyrdom day falls towards the close of May or beginning of June. On the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, sweetened milk is offered to the thirsty passers-by to commemorate the death of the Guru. Nowadays this day is celebrated everywhere in gurdwaras and by leading processions and serving cold drinks free.

Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom day

Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom day falls in November/December. The day is celebrated by organising processions, singing hymns in gurdwaras, and by organising lectures, sermons, kirtans, etc.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Vaisakhi juga dikenali sebagai Baisakhi ialah salah satu pesta menuai kuno di Punjab, yang juga menandakan bermulanya tahun suria baru dan musim menuai baru. Vaisakhi juga membawa kepentingan keagamaan bagi penganut agama Sikh. Vaisakhi jatuh pada hari pertama bulan Vaisakh dalam kalendar Nanakshahi suria, bersamaan dengan 14 April dalam kalendar Gregory.

Vaisakhi merupakan salah satu perayaan yang utama dalam kalendar Sikh, memperingati penubuhan Khalsa pada tahun 1699; ramai yang sangka bahawa inilah Tahun Baru Sikh, tetapi sebenarnya bukan begitu. Vaisakhi juga disambut sebagai bermulanya tahun baru oleh bangsa India di Bengal Barat, Kerala, dan sesetengah rantau lain di India. Kepentingan tertentu yang dihubungkan dengan perayaan ini menonjolkan kepelbagaian antara rantau di luar Punjab. Di Himachal Pradesh, Dewi Hindu Jwalamukhi dipuja pada hari Vaisakhi, sementara di Bihar, dewa matahari Surya diberi penghormatan. Perayaan ini disambut sebagai Rongali Bihu di Assam, Naba Barsha di Bengal, Puthandu di Tamil Nadu, Vishu (atau Vaishakhi) di Kerala, dan Tahun Baru Sinhala/Tamil di Sri Lanka. Selain Punjab, Vaisakhi juga disambut sebagai pesta menuai di beberapa negeri lain di utara India, termasuk Haryana, Himachal Pradesh dan Uttaranchal.
Guru Gobind Singh, guru Sikh Kesepuluh mengasas Khalsa (Hamba-hamba Tuhan) pada perhimpunan Vaisakhi tahun 1699, di Keshgarh Sahib berhampiran Anandpur, di mana beliau bersedia untuk para pengikut berjumpa dengan beliau di Pesta Vasakhi di Anandpur. Pada hari itu Guru Gobind Singh meminta seorang lelaki dalam jemaah yang sanggup mengorbankan nyawa diri demi perjuangannya tampil ke hadapan. Lelaki itu bernama Daya Singh, dan dia mengikut Guru ke dalam khemah beliau. Sewaktu Guru keluar dari khemah, pedang beliau diwarnai darah; maka beliau meminta seorang lagi. Seorang demi seorang Dharam Singh, Himmat Singh, dan Sahib Singh tampil ke hadapan. Seorang demi seorang mereka memasuki khemah Guru, dan Guru keluar sendiri dengan pedang berdarah. Para pengikut berasa gementar, sehingga kelima-lima lelaki itu keluar dari khemah, lalu dinamai Panj Piare atau lima orang tersayang.

Guru mencurahkan air ke dalam sebiji mangkuk untuk direnjiskan pada lima orang itu dalam upacara inisasi yang serba ringkas. Beliau membaca doa sambil mengacau air dengan sebilah pedang keluli yang pendek; melambangkan perlunya kekuatan. Isteri Guru, Mata Sundri, kemudian tampil ke hadapan lalu meletakkan beberapa hablur gula ke dalam air suci atau amrit sebagai peringatan bahawa kekuatan mesti diimbangi dengan kebaikan resmi. Setelah selesai upacara, barulah Guru merenjiskan amrit pada kelima-lima orang itu.

Guru mengisytiharkan lima orang pengikut itu sebagai ahli-ahli terawal sebuah masyarakat orang-orang setaraf yang lama, bergelar Khalsa atau "suci". "Tentera keramat" ini bertujuan membaktikan sepanjang umur mereka untuk membantu yang lain dan mengejar keadilan demi segala insan tanpa mengira agama. Panj Pyare itu diminta memakai lima lambang tersendiri identiti baru mereka, iaitu Lima K.

Sebagai langkah menghapuskan pembahagian sosial, nama keluarga Panj Pyare digugurkan oleh Guru, terutamanya kerana nama keluarga dikaitkan dengan kasta seseorang - kemudian Guru mengurniakan gelaran Singh (yang bermaksud "singa") kepada Panj Pyare (dan semua lelaki Sikh) sebagai peringatan perlunya keberanian. Pada masa yang sama, Guru mengurniakan gelaran "Kaur" ("puteri") pada semua perempuan Sikh untuk menekankan maruah dan kesetarafan sepenuhnya. Kemudian, Guru berlutut menghadap kelima-lima pengikut itu lalu meminta mereka menginisiasi beliau. Maka, Khalsa menjadi sebuah masyarakat di mana tuan dan pengikut adalah setaraf.

Bagi orang-orang Sikh, perayaan bermusim ini juga amat penting sebagai memperingati penubuhan Akal Khalsa (Tentera kepada Yang Abadi) di Anandpur Sahib. Akal Khalsa memainkan peranan penting dalam menentang pemerintahan Empayar Mughal. Berabad-abad kemudian, anak lelaki sulung kebanyakan keluarga Hindu di Punjab ditahbiskan sebagai Sikh agar membolehkan anak-anak itu berlatih dan menjadi pahlawan dan berjuang demi rakyat jelatan. Kanak-kanak lelaki lain pula menjaga keluarga, orang tua dan tanah.

Bagi menyambut perayaan, para penganut berkumpul di gurdwara atau tempat ibadah Sikh. Sambutan bermula awal apabila penganut, yang membawa bunga dan persembahan pergi ke gurdwara sebelum subuh. Perarakan sekitar bandar juga satu kebiasaan Vaisakhi merupakan hari kelahiran Khalsa (Orang-orang Suci) dan para penganut Sikh diberi identiti yang jelas tatalaku untuk diikuti.