Rattan Singh Bhorjee reflects on Holi and Hola Mohalla and the Indian farmers.
Hello and Sat Sri Akaal, my name is Rattan Singh Bhorjee and I am the former-President of Warwick Student Action for Refugees and former-Vice President of Warwick Sikh Society.
Next Week on the 29th of March, Sikhs around the world will celebrate the beginning of Hola Mohalla, a festival conceived by the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, which revolves around the demonstration of Gatka, the Sikh martial art, among other military sports and religious ceremonies, all of which reaffirm the fraternity and brotherhood espoused by the Sikh faith.
On the same day, Hindus will also celebrate the festival of Holi, a colourful and joyous celebration not only of fertility and harvest, but also a celebration of Lord Krishna and the legend of Holika and Prahalad.
In normal times, both of these festivals would have brought together families, communities and, in the spirit of interfaith, different religions. However, these are anything but normal times, and for many this will be symbolised by much more muted, and sometimes even lonely celebrations.
I remember attending countless Holi and Hola Mohalla celebrations, among the most enjoyable being the Holi celebrations organised at Warwick University in 2019 where people of all faiths and none engaged in celebrations throwing coloured powder and enjoying fine food and music, all in the spirit of interfaith.
The celebration of harvest within Holi, of fraternity and brotherhood within Hola Mohalla, and of interfaith within both festivals are perfectly encapsulated within the current struggle of the farmers of India.
Tens of millions of farmers, of all faiths and backgrounds, have come together to peacefully protest against unjust laws and along the way have faced police batons and water cannon, venomous propaganda and lethal winter cold. Yet in spite of these extreme hardships, these farmers have continued unperturbed, assisted by fantastic charities such as Khalsa Aid International and the charity of ordinary Indian citizens, who have truly put to action the Sikh belief of selfless service, known as Sewa.
Watching these scenes on Television whilst in lockdown in the UK, sometimes in awe, sometimes in anguish, I am reminded of Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings of unity and equality of all the peoples of the world and recognition of the whole human race as one. This spirit of solidarity and equality is something, I believe, can be applied not only to the farmers of Panjab and wider India, but to our own lives in the form of small acts of everyday kindness, especially in the difficult circumstances many of us find ourselves in during this pandemic.
The many global injustices that we as a human race face cannot be expelled in a day, but these acts of kindness that we are all capable of will certainly help to make the eventual removal of these injustices a reality.