The Sikh Education Council celebrated Hola Mohalla this year on Sunday 12 March with a chess tournament and debating contest. Competitors came together in London where a paper was delivered on Hola Mohalla in the 21st Century and members of the Council were able to consider the importance of the festival.

Hola Mohalla falls in the spring and runs parallel to the traditional sub-continent festival of Holi. Founded by the Guru, Hola Mohalla remains a major date on the Sikh calendar in Punjab where huge numbers gather at the city of Anandpur to compete in mock battles and feats of daring. Elsewhere though, the date and meaning has been mostly forgotten, particular amongst Sikhs in the west. One of the reasons for this is that some of the traditional arts and skills that members of the Sikh Diaspora retain are celebrated on other dates more convenient to the wider community, such as gatka tournaments and archery displays held in the summer.

The Council wanted to reinvigorate the spirit of Hola Mohalla – inculcating order and discipline into the Khalsa – and considered a range of activities for members that were competitive, accessible and relevant to engaging opposition. Over a dozen competitors participated in what will now be held as an annual Hola Mohalla event organised by the Sikh Education Council.

Presiding over the debating contest, chairman Dr Pargat Singh commented, “This event is an excellent way for our students to network and socialise whilst improving their oratory skills and strategic thinking. It is not what many Sikhs will associate with Hola Mohalla, but we greatly need to improve our capacity as a people to think with a longer termed vision and hopefully this event will help our members to achieve that.”

The paper will be published in the Spring 2017 edition of Sikh Sunehan.