Holi Festival & Hola Mohalla Photo Workshop
With Abhishek Hajela
February 28th - March 10th 2023
Holi is the Hindu festival that welcomes the Spring and celebrates the new life and energy of the season. Although Holi has religious roots, not much religious activity is involved in its celebration. Holi is the most energetic Indian festival, filled with fun and good humour; even the strict rules of separation between castes are abandoned. Holi is also called 'The Festival of Colors', and people celebrate the festival by smearing each other with paint, and throwing coloured powder and dye around in an atmosphere of great good humor. Holi is seen by some as the Hindu festival that is nearest in spirit to St. Valentine's Day.
Holla Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated in the month of Phalguna , a day after Holi. An annual festival held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Hola Mohalla was started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi. It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness, concepts dear to the Tenth Guru who was at that time battling the Mughal empire. On this three-day festival mock battles are held followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army that was founded by Guru Govind Singh) carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. They perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses.
28 Feb, Tuesday: Arrive Delhi
On your arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our representative who will escort you to your hotel. (Hotel check-in time is from 1400 hrs).
The rest of day is free to relax before we all meet for a welcome dinner and overview of the trip. We will talk about the program, photo walks and all the amazing things that we will experience.
Overnight at Delhi
01 Mar, Wednesday: Delhi to Mathura
This morning after breakfast, we will start our 3½ hrs drive to Mathura, which will be our base for next four days during Holi celebrations. This is a perfect opportunity to take some stunning, colorful images. On arrival you will be assisted with check-in at the hotel. After lunch get ready to photograph some of the most vibrant and striking images as we take you to Barsana to witness the festival of colours – Holi.
Thousands of people from across India came together in Mathura and near by villages where the festival of color is celebrated with great fervor. Holi marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. The festival begins with Lathmar Holi played in Barsana, a small village in Mathura. Lathmar Holi usually begins around a week before the main Holi day. During the Lathmar Holi celebrations, women from Barsana village wait with wooden sticks to beat the men who come from the adjacent village of Nandgoan, the hometown of Lord Krishna.
Hindu Mythology says that Lord Krishna along with his friends visited Barsana, Radha's village (Radha was Lord Krishna’s girlfriend), to tease her and other gopis (girls) by throwing colored water on them. In retaliation, Radha and gopis chased him and his friends to beat them up with sticks.
Even today, people from Nandgoan and Barsana follow the ritual. Men soaked in colored water arrive in Barsana and tease women by singing provocative songs. The women then beat them with sticks (lathis) and men use shields to protect themselves. Holi is celebrated for more than two weeks in Vrindavan and Mathura, where lord Krishna was born and grew up.
Later in the evening, we will return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Overnight at the Mathura
02 - 04 February, Thursday to Saturday: In Mathura
We will spend the days taking some amazing images of the Holi celebrations in nearby villages and temples.
Overnight at the Hotel
05 Feb, Sunday: Mathura to Delhi
Today after our morning shoot we will head back to Delhi.
05 & 6 February, Monday and Tuesday: In Delhi
We will spend the next two days photographing the Old city of Delhi.
08 March, Wednesday: Delhi to Anandpur Sahib via Chandigarh
This morning we will fly down to Chandigarh and then drive to Anandpur Sahib — where the very dramatic Holla Mohalla takes place.
The Holla Mohalla is an impressive traditional display of bravery and valor that is a must see.
The ultimate display of machismo - Holla Mohalla, an annual Sikh festival held a day after Holi, has the drama, the sweat and the incredible colours that Indian festivals are known for. With impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling, there's also music, poetry and prayers, singing and chanting. An important part of the festival is the langar (community food) that is served to pilgrims irrespective of their religion or caste. One of the main attractions at the festival are the Nihangs — a prestigious armed sect of the Sikha who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with thick twisted moustaches and overwhelmingly large and embellished turbans. They also demonstrate thrilling horse riding shows where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks like riding astride two horses. Holla Mohalla is held at Anandpur Sahib in the state of Punjab, and it is estimated that over 100,000 Sikh devotees attend the festival. This is an amazing festival with great photo opportunities!
Overnight at the Tents
09 March, Thursday: In Anandpur Sahib
We will start early in the morning to witness and capture the various activities that take place during the festival. We will spend the entire day here photographing this colorful and amazing festival.
Overnight at the Tents
10 March, Friday: Anandpur Sahib to Delhi Via Chandigarh
After a relaxing morning shoot, later today we will drive to Chandigarh to board the flight to Delhi.
On arrival you will be transferred to you hotel and assisted in check-in. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
You will be transferred to the Airport to board your flight back home!
- Bring your own laptop and storage media
- DSLR /Mirrorless Camera body(s)
- Lenses: 16-35mm, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom; similar lenses are very good
- Light bag for easy walking with camera bodies and accessories
- Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses
- Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses
- Charger for batteries
- Spare batteries
- Spare Memory cards
- Memory card reader
-- Accommodation based on twin sharing rooms for 11 nights.
-- All meals starting from dinner on the 28th of Feb till breakfast on the 11th of March.
-- Transport: We will be using Tempo Travellers throughout the trip.
-- All currently applicable taxes.
-- International Flights
-- Anything not mentioned in the program or “Inclusions”
-- Personal expenses, medical expenses and travel insurance