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Bandi Chhor Diwas 2022: Know About How Sikhs Celebrate Diwali Every Year

Hailed as the most vibrant and spirit thrilling festivals, the grand festival of Diwali is celebrated across the globe. Deeply embedded with spiritual connotations, the festival of lights spells "victory of light of knowledge over the darkness of ignorance and the triumph of good over evil.

Apart from people belonging to the Hindu community, this festival is also celebrated by Sikhs as it happens to be the day when, in 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind, returned to Amritsar from Gwalior after his days of imprisonment by the Mughals ended.

This day is known as the Bandi Chhor Divas which is an event whose significance is beyond words for a Sikh, as it is celebrated with equal fervour along with Vaisakhi, Hola Mohalla and Gurpurab. This year, Bandi Chhor Diwas will be celebrated on 24 October 2022. It was celebrated for the first time in the autumn of 1619 between October and November. The date changes as per the lunar calendar every year. Diwali was first considered a Sikh festival by Guru Amardas and since then, Diwali has been called Bandi Chhor Divas by the Sikh religious community. Let us know more about this day.

Bandi Chhor Diwas 2022: Celebrations

The day of Bandi Chhor Divas falls in autumn and sometimes coincides with Diwali. This day is marked as a day of remembrance that is celebrated by lighting lamps, at homes and Gurudwaras, conducting Nagar kirtans (processions), and holding Langars (community kitchen) apart from the Akhand Path of Guru Granth Sahib. Under the sparkling and scintillating fireworks up on the dark expanse of the mysterious night sky, the Sikh community gathers at the Sri Harmandir Sahib complex, which shimmers with serial lights and lamps. Gurudwaras reverberate with chants sung in chorus from the Guru Granth Sahib, and Sikh Sangat and groups organize kirtans, and kathas performed in the Samagam where the historical significance of this day Is explained and the path of Guru is believed to be reilluminated for the devotees.

Special lamps are lit at Sri Darbar Sahib, Gurdwara Tarn Taran Sahib, Gurdwara Sri Tambu Sahib, Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib and Gurdwara Shaheed Sahib of Sri Muktsar Sahib. On the Bandi Chhor Diwas, the devotees who gather there, bend their knees downwards and offer their prayers in that posture. Spending time with family and exchanging gifts with loved ones is a highly practised ritual for this day.

"Divali", as the Bandi Chhor Divas holds immense importance to the successful realization of the Sikh (Miri-Piri) goals. Reminiscent of the struggle that led them from poverty and oppression to the new world of reason and liberation, and the message of Hatemi Raj received from Akal Purakh, Diwali is considered as a freedom march towards the fulfilment of spiritual and temporal goals for the human society. The uplift of human society is the primary objective that Bandi Chhor Diwas is associated with.

The story of Diwali for the Sikhs is a story of the Sikh struggle for freedom. With the advent of Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539), the founder of Sikhism, the popular folk festivals including Vaisakhi, Holi, and Diwali, aside from the worship rituals like Aarti, acquired another dimension of the ocean of spirituality. The first day of each lunar month called Sangraand was used as an occasion for promoting Sikh themes. The Sikhs have entered the era of reason and belief in the existence of one God and their enlightened ideology adds new meaning to their celebrations.

Bandi Chhor Diwas 2022: History And Significance

Bandi Chhor Diwas have historically important reasons behind its celebration. It was the day their master Guru Hargobind, released himself and the other 52 princes who were jailed along with him in Gwalior by Jehangir.

On 24 June 1606, at age 11, Guru Hargobind, was coronated to be the sixth Sikh Guru, at his succession ceremony wore two swords on himself, one of which indicated his resolve to conserve the spiritual leadership (Piri) and the other, his temporal leadership (Miri). The memory of his father, Arjan Dev, who was executed mercilessly at the hands of the Mughals incited him to fight against their oppressors. As a first step towards the military expansion and advancement of the Sikh army, he constructed the Akal Takht, the Throne of God, in Amritsar and silently the men force in the army outgrew the intended numbers.

Alarmed by this development, Nawab of Lahore, Murtaja Khan, informed the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who sent Wazir Khan and Guncha Beg to Amritsar to arrest Guru Hargobind. Wazir Khan was a silent admirer of Guru and hence he requested the Guru to meet Jehangir. As soon as Guru Hargobind reached Delhi, he was incarcerated in 1609 and spent some time there. Mian Mir, a noted Sufi saint, and Wazir Khan managed to get the Sikh guru released from prison by convincing Jehangir that Guru and the Sikhs bore no animosity towards the muslims.

Also, along with the guru, 52 other kings and princes had been imprisoned by Jehangir. Upon a condition that the other 52 kings should be released from prison, along with him, the Guru agreed to be freed. Jehangir reluctantly agreed and informed Guru that each prisoner should hold on to guru's dress as the he walked out from prison.

The Guru, in a smart move, outwitted the emperor by getting a special dress with a very large hemline which stretched up to several yards behind him.. the 52 kings grasped the Gurus dress and walked out of the prison, with head held high, into freedom and light that were awarded to them. Hence, Guru Hargobind came to be known as Bandi (prison) Chhor (liberator), and the day of liberation is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas (day of freedom).

It was the day of Diwali, on which Guru Hargobind stepped back into his territory. People, in wild frenzy and enthusiasm, lit lamps, candles, and strings of lights and decorated the domes, while fireworks lit the sky aglow with stunning patterns of sparks that spelt the colours of freedom and the spark of revival and restoration. This was soon accepted as a tradition that is being followed for the past 400 years. At the Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Dwara in Phoenix and also across the globe, Sikhs celebrate the prisoner release day, which is otherwise known as Bandi Chhor Diwas, by flooding the Gurudwara with lights of hundreds of candles, chorus singing of Shabads, with an extravagant preparation of Guru ka Langar, and savour the camaraderie that is felt deeply by each participant.

It was on the Vaisakhi day (now in April), when Khalsa or the Sikh nation was formally established by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh, where Diwali became the second day for meeting and planning their freedom strategy. Because of this, Guru Sahib has been called a prisoner and a donor.

Another important Sikh event that is remembered during Divali is the martyrdom in 1734 of the elderly Sikh scholar and strategist Bhai Mani Singh, the Granthi (priest) of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple). Bhai Mani Singh's and other Sikh martyrs strengthened the Khalsa struggle for freedom and succeeded finally in establishing Khalsa rule in North Delhi.

Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky does not confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons

Story first published: Sunday, October 23, 2022, 10:00 [IST]
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