Mention that Holi is around the corner, and big smiles light up the faces of youngsters and oldies alike. This is one festival that is celebrated enthusiastically by everyone, especially in North India. Surprisingly, lots of youngsters didn’t know the reason why it’s celebrated- they were just out to have fun. A couple of them did tell me that it’s the victory of good over evil but they didn’t know the story behind it. 
  3 years ago my cousin got a chance to attend Holi  rather “Holla Mohalla ” as it’s called by Sikhs and celebrated in Anandpur Saheb . She came back so full of awe at what all she had seen and heard. This is what she had to say —— People gathered in thousands , yet there was no stampede, jostling or rude behavior. This is celebrated on the same day as Holi or the next day.. It’s a 3 day mela.

Mostly it’s a show of strength and valour by the Nihangs – the armed  branch of Sikhs – military exercises. Guru Gobind Singh the tenth Guru gave lot of importance to being physically fit and well trained in self defence , for men ,women and even children, so that they could fight the oppressors of those time. Women being  taught self defence  was a rarity that time , when most of the women lived in purdah. Till date Nihangs participate in mock battles and age is definitely no bar to show their prowess. 

Earlier only “Ithar” scented water was used instead of colour to spread joy but now they have started using colours too. Young children can be seen riding two horses at the same time ; archery, sword fight, fencing  and other sports of expertise are played in good faith to improve themselves. Non stop langar and lassi ( sweet curd) is distributed to the people present. 

My cousin remembered  watching an 80 years old gentleman participating and winning. Nihangs have a tough life and believe in taking on any challenge head on. Some thing that we can definitely learn. She said that she had yet to see such a huge congregation where everyone was joyous and enjoying the competitions. Competitors and viewers alike. Tractors and trailers full of people and food were just pouring in. 

A must visit for everybody.  She  felt that there was so much to learn – discipline- practice- ability of self defence and last but not the least the large heartness of the people of neighbouring villages who provide food ; milk and tea etc for 3 days in a row to thousands of people. And all with a welcoming smile. 
Coloring the hearts and minds of people with love, joy and selfless. And an important lesson learnt – always be self dependent for your own safety. An important lesson in today’s uncertain world.