Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is referred to as Bandi Chhor Divas by the Sikhs.
Bandi Chhor Divas holds deep historical and cultural significance for Sikhs. Translated literally, Bandi Chhor Divas means ‘Prisoner Release Day’. It commemorates the liberation of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs.
Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was imprisoned in Gwalior Fort by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. On his release, in 1619, he negotiated the release of 52 Hindu Kings at the same time. The emperor Jahangir agreed to let go of those who could hold on to Guru Ji’s coat. Guru Ji got a special coat made with 52 tassels and freed all the prisoners.
The release of the prisoners established the Sikh community’s distinct identity and commitment to Justice.
This momentous event symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and the victory of righteousness. Bandi Chhor Divas represents the triumph of light over darkness. Sikhs celebrate Divali as a day to commemorate this historical event and to honour the principles of justice and freedom.
Today, Diwali is joyously celebrated in Sikh communities worldwide. Sikhs illuminate their homes and gurdwaras with diyas (oil lamps) to symbolize the spiritual conquest of light over darkness. They join in kirtan (devotional singing), ardas (prayers), and langar (community kitchen) where food is shared with all, emphasizing equality and unity.
Diwali serves as a time for Sikhs to come together with their families, cherished ones, to deeply contemplate the teachings of their Gurus, and fortify their connection with the Divine. It is a celebration of love, compassion, and the pursuit of justice, reminding Sikhs of the utmost importance of upholding these values in their everyday lives.
As Sikhs celebrate Diwali, they not only pay homage to their rich history and culture but also recommit themselves to the guiding principles of their faith, fostering a sense of unity and devotion.