26 November, 2020

Arrow In The Blue

A fair-town splashed with the blue of its armed revellers—it’s Hola Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib

Arrow In The Blue

Anandpur Sahib—the little town in Roopnagar district of Punjab with the Sutlej a shimmering blue presence on its south-west border—is painted yellow-orange for Hola Mohalla, the spring festival of colours. The Nihangs (Sikh warrior-mendicants) with their distinctive electric-blue robes and quoits of steel tiered in their lofty turbans, are battle-ready. Mock fights with real weapons, swordplay (gatkas) and bareback horse-riding in simulated battles enliven the vibrant Sikh fiesta. Devotees in pangats (long queues) congregate at gurudwaras for rich and aromatic langars (crammed full with succulent jal­e­bis, wholesome paranthas and milky las­sis), while others are high on bhaang (crushed and taken as a liquid or baked into cookies) as well as ‘forbidden nectar’ at warrior camps. Hay-stacked tru­cks and tractors serve as homes, while camps-outs are comfort dens.

To underscore the tradition of horsemanship and bring an international flavour to the carnival, Sodhi Vikram Singh, the charismatic descendant of the fourth guru of the Sikhs,...



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