March 6, 2018 | 2:40 pm
This week, Sikhs in India and around the world celebrated Hola Mahalla and our students were no exception. The grade 10 through 12s travelled to the heart of the celebrations in Anandpur Sahib while the younger students celebrated on campus.
The grade 10, 11 and 12 students travelled to Anandur Sahib on Thursday afternoon after finishing a week of exams. The journey was slow as many people around the Punjab were also heading to Anandpur Sahib for this occasion. What is usually a four or five hour drive turned into nine long hours with a stop at Haveli and two hangars along the way. Starting from just outside of Amritsar, there are langars set up all along the road to Anandpur Sahib with many dedicated Sikhs looking to feed hungry travelers. It’s not a meek offering; many of the langars will flag you down or even stand in your way so that you stop! We resisted many langars along the way until we were close to Anandpur Sahib and it was dinner time.
After arriving at Dashmesh Sadan, the home of the Siri Singh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, the students settled in for the night. They woke up to read Japji, do their current daily practice of pantra and then it was off to have some more langar. At 10am, we were ready for the big day ahead and took off on foot to Harian Wellan Gurdwara.
We started our Hola Mahalla experience at Harian Wellan Gurdwara serving langar and for those still hungry, eating langar as well. Some of the students served rotis, dhal or water, while other flipped rotis and sorted through piles of cilantro.
After about an hour and a half, we assembled quickly in the gurdwara in time for Baba Nihal Singh to give an Ardas. Baba Nihal Singh is the leader of Tarna Dal, one of the Nihang (Sikh warrior) lineages and was a good friend of the Siri Singh Sahib’s. Traditionally, the students of MPA travel in the Nagar Kirtan with Baba Nihal Singh and other Nihangs.
When the Ardas was complete, Baba Nihal Singh and his entourage left the gurdwara to join the Hola Mahalla celebrations in the street. We quickly rushed to get our shoes on and join the procession. It was extremely busy with many, many people in the streets to celebrate. Some stood on the side of the road, others sat on top of buildings, we joined the moving procession with the nihangs and their many horses. After some time and a little bit of running, we caught up to Baba Nihal Singh and joined his entourage in chanting. At a quiet moment at the end of the procession route, he called Gurprakash Singh over and invited the school to Harianvela, his home town, to play kirtan next month. It was an important moment and an acknowledgement of Miri Piri Academy and the legacy of the Siri Singh Sahib.
After this junction, we turned back and continued towards the stadium, which hosts the culmination of the Nagar Kirtan. Before reaching the stadium, we veered off and headed back to Dashmesh Sadan. It’s simply too chaotic to take the students to the stadium with the thousands of people and the horses whipping by at top speeds. It was a full and tiring day and we were ready for a break. After some snacks and time to relax, some of the students went back out with Himmat and Liza to check out the market. Early the next morning we were back on the bus, heading for MPA.
Thank you to Liza for helping provide photos.
The grade 5 to 9 students stayed at MPA during Hola. Being in Anandpur Sahib for such an occasion requires the ability to really look after yourself and to work as part of the team so we only bring the older students.
The younger students had a great time back at the school. They went to see Black Panther on Thursday night, the staff prepared a special breakfast for them on Friday morning and then they got really colourful with the famous Holi powders!
Thank you to Amrit Singh,, Ananda Kaur, Guru Dev Kaur, and Prem Kaur for providing photos of this event.