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Holi Mela in Paonta Sahib

My blog's name - Reminiscences - also means Chronicles, Memoirs, Anecdotes and many more sophisticated words. The synonym that resonates to me the most is - Memories. Whenever I start writing here, these reminiscences always take me down the memory lane. This post is one of the most vivid memories I treasure. 

My home town Paonta Sahib is a small town on the banks of river Yamuna. It is very famous for its majestic Gurudwara established by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. I have always enjoyed visiting the holy shrine and being a part of the prayers there. Every year millions of devotees visit the shrine to gather blessings.
Apart from the Gurudwara, the town is very famous for its annual Holi Mela (fair) which takes place at the festival of Holi. India's perception as a colourful country is well justified by this marvellous festival of colours. People visit each other during the day and apply colours at their faces and clothes. Here's some more reading about the festival - Holi - Wikipedia.

The Mela gathers at one of the two large Gurudwara grounds in the front of the holy Gurudwara. It is essentially a large collection of small make shift shops selling a myriad of consumer goods along with a lot of fun activities like joy rides, Sorcerer and daredevil shows. There are other attractions such as eateries, large rides e.g. giant wheels etc.

Some major attractions unique to Sikhism are the traditional weaponry display by the Sikh youth and a unique Nagar Kirtan (procession) across the town. There are local wrestling championships as well which are equally famous. All the attractions have the Gurudwara as the centre of activity. The whole Mela is a huge crowd puller and people gather there from the nearby towns and villages in large numbers.
Sikh Youth showcasing their weaponry skills.

The Nagar Kirtan (Procession).
The Nagar Kirtan (Procession).
One of the popular activity is the Maut ka Kuan (well of death, literally) where a daredevil would ride a motorbike on the inside walls of a cylindrical well. These days they have stepped up the level by introducing a car driving with a motorbike. Double the thrills there.

The Mela starts shaping up 2-3 days before the Holi festival and remains there at the grounds for 2-3 days after Holi. This makes almost a complete week of buzzing activity in the centre of the town. In terms of local micro economic activities as well, it is beneficial overall.
Different Joy Rides.

Different Joy Rides.
Different Joy Rides.
People play Holi in the morning till mid day and then visit the Mela to have a fun time. Having its roots in the rural agrarian society, the remnants of such practices are still present. Although things have become modernised these days, the essence of the whole festivity remains the same.

My most vivid memories of the Mela are the ones where I'd go there with my Dad and enjoy all the rides turn by turn. There used to be a waiting line for each ride and it has not reduced in the present day. Then I'd try my hand at shooting the small balloons with an air gun or pistol. It was a nice thrilling activity for me even in adulthood.

We would roam around and have some freshly made sweets at the local sweet shops. Then after some little bit of shopping of small pocket games and puzzles, my Dad would drive us home with me carrying a bunch of helium balloons. I would play with the balloons until they would deflate completely. :)

This whole memory kicks in a huge wave of nostalgia inside me. Recently I again got a chance of visiting my town in that festivity and as obvious I didn't miss the Mela. We went there and I clicked a lot of pictures to show it to the world. I enjoyed all the activities and things which I remember doing as a child. It was a great refreshing experience for me.

Here are some more pictures of the Mela. I hope this post shall bring this major event to even greater heights and popularity through the online media. :)
A lady selling home wares.
A game where one throws rings from a distance and gets whatever the landing ring encircles.

Various Joy Rides.

Shooting balloons with an air gun.
People queuing up for the Sorcerer show.
Maut Ka Kuan (Well of Death) where daredevils drive inside the Well walls.
Ladies buying artificial jewellery. Notably, everything at this shop cost Rs. 10 only.

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