Sikhs in Kashmir celebrate Hola Mohalla festival
Sikhs as well as people from other religions took out a holy procession from Poonch market in Jammu and Kashmir to the national highway to mark the celebration of Hola Mohalla, a Sikh festival, often called the festival of perfume and chivalry.
The celebrations were marked by a procession while people sprayed perfumes on each other, chanted devotional songs and displayed sword skills and other stunts as a mark of the bravery and fighting prowess, which is a special characteristic of the Sikh community.
People irrespective of caste, creed and religion, joined the procession to greet each other while thronging the streets of Kashmir.
Speaking on the significance of the festival, a member of Sikh community, Gurdeep Singh Sasan, said that the festival acknowledges humanity as a whole, irrespective of religion.
"Guru Govind Singh had identified only one religion of humanity. And today we are seeing people from all caste, creed and religion united and celebrating this auspicious day in Poonch," said Sasan.
Another member of the Sikh community, Satish Sasan, said that Poonch has always witnessed people uniting on festivals forgetting their religious inhibitions.
"This has been a tradition in Poonch, whether it is Hola Mohalla or Holi, people come together forgetting their religions. Yesterday all Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs united on the occasion of Holi and celebrated Holi with enthusiasm.In the same way, people have united for the Hola Mohalla today and joined the religious procession on the streets," said Satish.
Hola Mahalla is a week- long Sikh festival beginning on the first day of the lunar month and often falls in March. The festival seeks to promote brotherhood and includes activities like outdoor camps and display of fighting prowess and chivalry, followed by singing of devotional songs, music, and poetry.
People from all religions gather in queues at the Gurudwaras (Sikh religious institutions) and feast on vegetarian meals.
The event concludes with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs in Punjab.
(Posted on 19-03-2014)