Tens of thousands of people converged on this Sikh holy town on Monday to be part of the Hola Mohalla festival.

 

It was a virtual sea of humanity of men, women and children near the main shrine, Takht Keshgarh Sahib.

The three-day Hola Mohalla celebrations coincide with the Hindu festival of Holi.

All roads to the holy town, which is home to the second most important Sikh shrine after the “Harmandar Sahib” (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar, had heavy vehicle movement with people coming in hordes on buses, trucks, tractor-trolleys and other vehicles.

Hundreds of Nihang Sikhs assemble in this religious town for the Hola Mohalla celebrations and show their prowess through the Gatka martial art.

“It is a really festive and colourful spirit here. Some of the Nihangs have very interesting and huge turbans which are decorated with religious symbols,” Harkirat Singh, a tourist who had come with a group of foreigners for the Hola Mohalla, said.

It was at this shrine that Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, had in 1699 baptized five men and founded the Khalsa Panth, which is the modern day Sikh religion.

The Hola Mohalla celebrations began around 1701 as Guru Gobind Singh wanted his troops to have mock battles to keep them battle-ready.

Anandpur Sahib is located about 85 km from Chandigarh.