Locals celebrate Hola Mohalla with traditional Sikh rituals

The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Fort St. John will celebrate Hola Mohalla this week by inviting local communities to experience Sikh traditions
Fort St. John Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Hola Mohalla celebration gathering in 2019. (Manveer Singh)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Fort St. John will celebrate Hola Mohalla this week by inviting community members to experience Sikh traditions.

From March 8th to 10th, 2023, Sikhs around the globe celebrate Hola Mohalla, a Sikh martial arts tradition that began in 1701, as Sikh’s tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, ordered his troops to have mock battles to keep them battle-ready. 

“Hola Mohalla signifies the warrior spirit bestowed on Sikhs by our Guru Gobind Singh Ji,” said Manveer Singh, a local gurdwara or a temple volunteer.

Singh believes in the importance of traditional rituals, especially when Sikhs celebrate religious events outside Panjab.

“We want to make sure as a community we welcome everyone but also focus on our Sikh youth to know their history and culture.”

According to Ravinder Singh Billing, a member of Sikh Gurdwara, Hola Mohalla unifies the Sikh community and strengthens their belief in Guru’s teachings.   

Fort St. John Sikh Gurdwara Sahib will hold a religious Diwan and poetry competition this weekend to celebrate the event with the Sangat (Sikh gathering). Guru’s langar (free community kitchen in Punjabi) will also be served throughout the chosen day.

A Nihang Singh and his beloved horse. (Sudhir Sharma)

Gurprem Singh, a Granthi Singh (priest) at Sikh Gurdwara Sahib, said religious lectures would also be a part of this event to understand the Sikh context of martial arts tradition.

“Due to coronavirus restrictions and cold weather in Fort St. John, horse races, Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons) won’t be taking place, but we hope to have a large-scale event next summer,” said Singh.

Sikh Martial Arts Celebration at Anandpur Sahib, Panjab. (Harnavbir Singh)

Singh said Sikh Gurdwara aims to involve the local community to share Sikh values and principles.

“Everyone is welcome to join our celebration and experience the Sikh way of life.”

Gursimran Kaur, an International student from Punjab, says Sikh Gurdwara provides a safe cultural space for interaction with other community members and celebrating significant religious events.

“Whenever I miss my family, I come to Gurdwara Sahib and feel at home,” said Kaur.

Ardass (Sikh prayer) will complete the celebration of Hola Mohalla. The Fort St. John Sikh Gurdwara hopes to hold a more significant celebration next year.

The Hola Mohalla celebration will be held at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Fort St. John this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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