ਹੋਲੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵ ॥: Holee keenee Sant sev:
(I) Celebrate (the festival of) Holi
by serving Sant (sggs 1180).

To deepen our understanding and thus to deepen our Spiritual living, the SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) has used many examples and similes including seasons, festivals, and so on. For example:

Similarly, there is also the mention of the festival of "Holi" in the SGGS. The purpose of this Reflection is not to get into the history, popularity or rituals associated with the festival of Holi, but, from a spiritual standpoint, try to reflect upon as to how the SGGS would like us to celebrate it.

HOLI - ਹੋਲੀ

India being the ancient country, it has many festivals. Some of these festivals are very ancient and also popular. Holi (pronounced Holee ), is one of them. It is also known as the festival of colors. Celebrated on the full moon day of Phaagun (or Phaggan), it is particularly more popular in north India. People from all walks of life — irrespective of religion, caste, age, and gender — celebrate Holi. It is spring time in India, flowers and fields are in bloom and the people go wild running on the streets and smearing each other with paint and throwing powered colors (Gulaal, etc.), colored water and dye around in an atmosphere of great good humor and exuberance, with dancing and singing. Also, bonfires are lit during Holi in a prominent public places. Plenty of Bhang (cannabis/intoxicant) taking in various ways also goes on this day! For example, a special drink is prepared called Thandai which is generally laced with Bhang and contains small amounts of marijuana. People invite each other to their houses for Thandai, feasts and celebrations. There are many stories and folklore associated with the festival of Holi. Known originally as "Holika", it has been mentioned in very early Hindu religious works. It is also known as Holikotsava.

Based on these, in nutshell, the festival of Holi essentially signifies to reaffirm togetherness and the burning (or eradication) of the evil passions: lust, anger etc., and their numerous variations such as selfishness, hatred, enviousness, animosity, and all rest of the negative tendencies and actions, and the victory of righteous forces over demonic forces. Apparently, Holi has lost its original significance over the years long ago.

HOLAA MAHALLAA - ਹੋਲਾ ਮਹੱਲਾ

In lieu of the traditional Holi, it is said that Guru Gobind Singh Jee (the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs) revived the spirit of Holi and weaved its essence into a festival called "Holaa Mahallaa", this annual festival of Sikhs was created by Guru Gobind Singh Jee in his own way. At the time Guru Gobind Singh Jee introduced it, he was battling the Mughal empire and the hill kings. On this day, he held a military parade of the Sikhs, who came out in their best and went through a sort of mock battle at the historic township of Anandpur Sahib. It was to remind the people of togetherness, brotherhood, valor and defense preparedness. Hola is the masculine form of the feminine Holi. Holaa Mahallaa usually falls in March (spring season in India) a day after Holi. Although, initially, Anandpur Sahib played host to Holaa Mahallaa, now it is also replicated at other Gurdawara worldwide.

The author is not a historian. Therefore, instead of quoting hearsay or somebody else's accounts, the following eyewitness accounts of this festival at Anandpur Sahib are based on the author's own visits to Holaa Mahallaa in his childhood, around 1950s-1960s.


From spiritual standpoint, the SGGS tells us as to how one can go about celebrating Holi. That is, by serving the "Sant" (Parmeshar, Parmaatam, God...).

Now, who is "Sant" in the Gurbani? The Gurbani tells us as to who the real "Sant" is in the Gurmat (Wisdom of the Gurbani, SGGS):

Hence, primarily, the term "Sant" indicates ONE "Bhartaa" (Mool, Parmaatam, Hari, Gobind, Prabh,Raam, Allah...) in the SGGS.

A divine being can also be outside (e.g., Gur-Sahibaan or Bhagat etc., but, at the level of the Aatmaa not at the level of the physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), etc.

However, they call themselves Daas, Jan, etc., but NOT Sant. For they know that the Real Sant is the ONE "Bhartaa".

Now, the next question is: how one can go about serving the Lord, Parmeshar, Satigur, Gur...?

By washing the clothes of those free-loaders (ਵੇਲੜ, fraud, Deraa-vaad thugs - "ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ")? By feeding them with delicacies? By chauffeuring them around in fancy cars or flying them first-class? By building them Ashrams? By donating them money, expensive cars, planes or land? By following them blindly? By massaging their feet? By touching physical feet? None of these — according to the SGGS.

The SGGS urges us to serve with Shabad-Vichaar.

With Shabad-Vichar arises the Divine Wisdom and Virtues within the mind (the Gurmukh Lifestyle)

In nutshell, the Gurbani's Sant is at the level of Aatmaa (Soul), not at the level of physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ). In other words, one cannot become a Sant by wearing a robe (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), or by calling himself a Sant, or having his deluded or stupid followers calling him a Sant!

— T. Singh