Bandhi Chhor Diwas (Sikh Diwali): A Photo Essay
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Sikh Diwali is called ‘Bandhi Chhor Divas’ meaning ‘Prisoner Release Day’. This year it falls on 23rd October. This is the day when Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Guru, was released from Gwalior fort along with 52 other prisoners.
History: During the time of the 6th Guru, Sikhism had become the fastest growing religion. Unfortunately religious leaders and the Mogul Emperor became jealous. So they ordered Guru Ji to be detained in Gwalior fort in 1612 AD. On entering the fort, Guru Ji was greeted by 52 Hindu kings, who had been previously stripped of their kingdoms and imprisoned. Guru Ji gave everyone hope, by telling them about the reality of life and by engaging them in Naam Simran (meditation).
Jahangir was surprised by Guru Ji’s popularity in the fort. Troubled with fearful visions, the Emperor gave orders for Guru Ji’s release. But Guru Ji refused to come out of the fort until all the other 52 innocent prisoners were set free. The Mogul Emperor, thinking himself to be clever proposed to release any and every prisoner that could hold on to the Guru’s clothing. So Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji ordered a special cloak to be made with 52 tassels. 52 pieces of cloth of different lengths were then tied to each tassel and each prisoner held one of these. It followed that on the day of Diwali in 1619 AD, the 6th Guru was released from Gwalior fort along with all 52 Hindu kings. Henceforth the Guru was called the ‘Freedom Provider’ or ‘Liberator’. He was greeted by Bhai Gurdas Ji, Baba Buddha Ji, Mian Mir (a Muslim Sufi Saint and friend of Guru Ji) and many other disciples. Guru Ji returned to Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar, with the 52 Kings where a magnificent celebration was held. The Harmandir Sahib was beautifully lit and decorated and fireworks illuminated the sky. People were elated and they sang Religious hymns.