What Do The Sikhs Commonly Call Diwali As

Amritsar: A view of illuminated Golden Temple on the eve of "Bandi Chhor Divas" that coincides with Diwali in Amritsar on Oct 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Sikhs call Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas. This is one of the most important festivals in the list of important celebrations for the Sikh community. Literally translated as the day of liberation, Bandi Chhor Diwas celebrates the historic event of the sixth guru of the Sikhs Guru Hargobind being released from the prison by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir along with 52 other kings. Bandi Chhor Diwas is celebrated in a grad manner along with other Sikh festivals like Vaisakhi, Maghi, Holi with Hola Mohalla and Gurpurab. The highlights of this Sikh festival include processions, feats, lighting of lamps in homes and Gurdwaras, charities and family get-togethers.

The best day to visit Gurdwaras

For the Sikhs, the day of Diwali or Bandi Chhor Diwas is the most suspicious day to visit the Gurdwaras. They organize a street procession called Nagar Keertan. A ritual known as Akhand Paath consisting of the continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib is also undertaken on this day. The whole complex of Shri Harmandir Sahib is decorated gorgeously with lights and festoons. In the temple, there are highly inspiring music programs by renowned musicians. Sikhs visit Gurdwaras with their families on this day and spend their time involving in spiritual activities.

The history behind the festival

Guru Arjun, the father of Guru Hargobind and the fifth Guru of the Sikhs was arrested by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Since he refused to convert to Islam, Jahangir tortured and killed him in 1606 AD. The martyrdom of Guru Arjun is greatly remembered and venerated in the history of Sikhism. Following the execution of Guru Arjun, his son acceded the throne of the Sikhs as the sixth Guru.

Military dimension to the Sikh community

During his accession ceremony, Guru Hargobind wore two swords indicating his spiritual and temporal authority that were called as Piri and Miri respectively. Due to the execution of his father Guru Arjun by Jahangir, Guru Hargobind Singh gave a military dimension to the Sikh religion. He enjoined the Sikhs to carry arms and fight with the enemies.

Guru Hargobind was imprisoned

In the pretext that the fine imposed on his father was not paid, Guru Hargobind was arrested and imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort by Jahangir. Around 1619, Guru Hargobind was released from jail after about twelve years of imprisonment along with 52 Hindu kings of other states. The Sikh tradition says Guru Gobind was released on Diwali and this important event came to be celebrated as Bandi Chhor Diwas.

Celebration at the Bandi Chor Gurudwara

There is a Sikh temple built on the site of Guru Hargobind’s imprisonment. This temple is called as Bandi Chhor Gurdwara. On the event of Diwali or Bandi Chhor Diwas, huge celebrations go on at this temple with lighting of earthen lamps and candles and some attractive fireworks and displays. In spirit and practice, Bandi Chhor Diwas celebrations resemble Diwali festivities in several ways. Both these festivals are centered on the theme of victory of good over evil. Such similarities in the celebrations bring the Hindu and Sikh communities together to celebrate Diwali in a tone of merriment and sense of triumph.



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