Sikhs celebrate annual festival of 'Hola Mohalla' in Punjab

Anandpur Sahib (Punjab) [India], Mar. 13 (ANI): Thousands of people from the Sikh community converged at Anandpur Sahib, a holy shrine in Punjab on Monday to celebrate an annual spring festival called 'Hola Mohalla'.

The nearly 300-year old festival marks the transformation of the Sikhs into a martial fraternity by their tenth Guru (leader), Guru Gobind Singh, to counter the Mughal Empire ruling from Delhi.

Incidentally, it falls a day after the Hindu festival of colours, 'Holi', with revellers also daubing each other in powdered colours.

Sikh martial exponents on horseback showcased their traditional art form with the swift movements of swords and sticks.

A devotee, Amandeep Singh, said he was delighted to witness the festivities.

"I am delighted to be here. For many years, my family and I wanted to be at this particular function which is of course one of the four main events in the Sikh calendar and I am so delighted because it is nearly 62 years of my add age, 62, that I am able to make it here and it really is a fantastic occasion. The gathering is superb and it is all enlightening should we say," said Singh.

Many came to the congregation with guns and bows to watch the proceedings, or take an active part in the same, amid drum beatings and slogans praising the Sikh Gurus.

Visitors from across the world visit the holy Sikh shrine at Anandpur Sahib and also take part in 'Hola Mohalla.'

"I think it is very exciting and very good to be here. I really enjoyed it. It is like, one like (an) event you do not see anywhere else," said a tourist from Germany.

Traditionally attired Nihangs, the title by which the army of the tenth Sikh Guru came to be addressed, happened to be the centre of attraction at the gala event as they displayed their martial skills in the ancient warfare known as 'Gatka' and fencing.

A large number of local police and volunteers were reportedly deployed by the administration to maintain order at the large gathering of people. (ANI)