Saturday, October 21, 2006
Diwali means festival of lights (from Sanskrit dipamala or dipavall meaning row of lamps or nocturnal illumination), is observed all over India on amavasyia, the last day of the dark half of the lunar month of Kartika (October-November). Like other seasonal festivals, Diwali has been celebrated since time immemorial.

The festival is usually linked with the return to Ayodhya of Lord Rama at the end of his fourteen-year exile. For the Hindus it is also an occasion for the worship of Laksmi, the goddess of good fortune, beauty and wealth. Among the Sikhs, Diwali came to have special significance from the day the town of Amritsar was illuminated on the return to it of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644), who had been held captive in the Fort at Gwalior under the orders of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir (1570-1627) .

Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, was freed from imprisonment in the famous fort of Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir in October, 1619. The reason for the young Guru’s imprisonment was no more than religious bigotry. The Guru’s father, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, had been martyred for the same reason. According to Sikh tradition, the Guru agreed to be freed only if the other Indian chiefs (rajahs) imprisoned with him were freed. Jahangir was under pressure from moderate but influential Muslim religious leaders like Hazrat Mian Mir, a friend of the Guru. So he relented grudgingly and ordained, "Let those rajahs be freed who can hold on to the Guru’s coat tails and walk out of prison". He had in mind no more than four or five being freed with the Guru. However, the Guru was not to be outmanoeuvred in this way. He asked for a special coat to be made with 52 coat tails - same number as the rajahs in prison with him! And so the rajahs were freed and the Guru became known popularly as the "Bandi Chhor" (Deliverer from prison). He arrived at Amritsar on the Diwali day and the Har Mandar (now known as the "Golden Temple") was lit with hundreds of lamps i.e. he was received in the same way as the Lord Rama and the day came to be known as the "Bandi Chhor Divas" (the day of freedom).

Bhai Gurdas in his Varan, XIX. 6, has drawn an image of lamps lighted on the night of Diwali like the stars, big and small, twinkling in the firmament going out one by one bringing home to the gurmukh, one who’s face is enlightened by the Guru’s grace, turned towards the Guru, i.e. he who is attached to the Guru, how transitory the world is."

This Shabad is by Bhai Gurdaas Ji in Vaars Bhai Gurdaas on Pannaa 19

dheevaalee dhee raath dheevae baaleeani thaarae jaath sanaath a(n)bar bhaaleeani fulaa(n) dhee baagaath chun chun chaaleeani theerathh jaathee jaath nain nihaaleeani har cha(n)dhuree jhaath vasaae ouchaaleeani guramukh sukhafal dhaath shabadh samhaaleean

Lamps are lighted in the night of divali festival; Stars of different variety appear in the sky; In the gardens the flowers are there which are selectively plucked; The pilgrims going to pilgrimage centres are also seen. The imaginary habitats have been seen coming into being and vanishing. All these are momentary, but the gurmukhs with the help of the Word nourish the gift of the pleasure fruit.

What do we learn from Bandi-Chhor Diwas?

52 Hindu Kings were freed with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib could have left the Fort when he was offered the chance. However, Guru Ji thought of others before himself. Others freedom and rights were more important than his own. Guru Ji is always thinking not of his emancipation but everyone's emancipation. This is the attitude and virtue which Guru Ji filled within his Sikhs, by putting into reality this positive message.

The Sikhs on this day, hold a one-day celebration in the Gurdwaras. So in the evening, illuminations are done with Deewé (earthen oil lamps) or candles and fireworks. The celebrations are held both in the Gurdwaras and in homes.

Posted by Puneet Kaur at 12:22 PM | Permalink |


  • At Monday, October 23, 2006, Blogger upinder kaur

    nice posts Puneet! this one as well as the previous one. Keep it up.

  • At Tuesday, October 24, 2006, Blogger Puneet Kaur


    Thank you ji.ur comments are always encouraging!


  • At Friday, October 27, 2006, Blogger Manvir Singh Khalsa

    Dhan Guru Hargobind Singh jee Maharaaj

  • At Friday, November 03, 2006, Blogger Angad Singh

    in reference to your post on diwali i would like to point you to

    unfortunately like most you have explained the vaar in a very literal way please read the above state link for some historical facts and the explaination of the var

  • At Friday, November 03, 2006, Blogger Puneet Kaur

    Thank u Angad, i appreciate the facts uv put up on ur post but i'd also like to say, that we're nobody to argue about anything related to Guru Sahib ji!
    if we keep on arguing about historical facts, when will we find the time to devote our days & lives to Maharaj???

  • At Wednesday, January 03, 2007, Anonymous Balvinder Singh, Malaysia

    You would also be interested to have more prespective with regards to blindly celebrating non-Sikh celebration like Diwali from

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