What Is the Meaning of the Sikhism Term "Hola Mohalla"?

A demonstration of Gatka, the Sikh martial art.
A Sikh boy participating in a gatka performance, the Sikh martial art, in Wolverhampton, England. (J Singh/Wikimedia Commons/CC ASA 2.0G)

The word Hola, an interchangeable phonetic short form of Holla, is a derivative of a Punjabi term meaning onset of attack or frontal assault. Mohalla has an Arabic root and is a description meaning an army battalion or military regiment marching in full regalia.

Pronunciation

Ho-laa Ma-haal-laa

Alternate Spellings

Holla Mahalla

Examples

Hola Mohalla is a weeklong Sikh Festival which revolves around daytime demonstrations of Gatka, the Sikh martial art, and other military sports.

Evening events include Sikh worship services and kirtan, the singing of hymns selected from Guru Granth Sahib. The grand finale at the end of the week is a martial arts and nagar kirtan parade. The festival usually takes place mid-March beginning on the first day of Chet, which is the start of the Sikh New Year according to the Nanakshahi calendar.

The word Hola is a masculine variation of Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival of Color, a licentious celebration which precedes Hola Mohalla by a day. Tenth Guru Gobind Singh introduced the martial festivities of Hola Mohalla to coincide with Holi.

In Punjab, Hola Mahalla is traditionally held annually in the city of Anandpur and is attended by Sikhs from all over India who throng to view the dashing feats of the Nihang warrior sect.