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Bandi Chor Divas- The Sikh celebration of Diwali

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Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India.  A festival that brings a smile on everyone’s face and lights a lamp in everyone’s heart. Diwali celebrations across India are different and also have different significance.

Around the time of Diwali, the Sikhs celebrate the Bandi Chor Divas. It is the day when the guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Sahib was freed and returned to Amristar. The people of Amritsar were rejoicing the return of their guru and therefore lit many lamps to honour him.

Bandi Chhor Divas – The Day of Liberation

Here is the story of how Guru Hargobind Sahib was imprisoned and later freed,

Of the ten Gurus of Sikhism, Guru HarGobind Ji was the sixth.  After his father Guru Arjan Dev Ji, HarGobind Ji was made the next guru.  Guru Hargobind Ji was interested in uniting people. He was against caste and religious discrimination. When his father made him the next guru, at the ceremony,  HarGobind Ji requested for two swords. He said that one sword was to fight the oppressors and the other was to protect the innocent.  He became very popular among the masses.

An official by name Chandu Shah did not like his popularity. He complained about Guru Hargobind ji to the Emperor of Delhi, Jahangir. Emperor Jahangir was unlike his father Emperor Akbar. Emperor Akbar wanted to bring people of all religions together, but Jahangir thought differently. It was not difficult for Chandu Shah to  turn Emperor Jahangir against HarGobind Ji.

Jahangir ordered HarGobind Ji to come to Delhi to meet him. Much to Chandu Shah’s discomfort, Jahangir and his wife were impressed with HarGobind Ji’s godly nature. Chandu Shah then devised another plan. He told Jahangir that a particular illness he was suffering from could be cured if HarGobind Ji was imprisoned. Jahangir fell for it and had HarGobind Ji put in prison. In the prison Guru HarGobindji met a lot of other innocent prisoners.

After a very long time, a pir (Muslim saint) advised Jahangir to release HarGobind Ji since Jahangir had already recovered from the illness. When HarGobind Ji was to be released, he demanded that 52 princes’ who were with him in the prison for a very long time also be released. Jahangir agreed but he put a condition. He said he would release only those prisoners who held on to the Guru’s chola(coat) as he walked out of the prison. The Emperor was pleased with himself because he was sure that only a handful would be able to hold onto the court.

But Guru HarGobind Ji asked for a coat to be stitched with 52 braids for each prince to hold on to as they walk out of prison. Since that day, HarGobind Ji was known as a liberator or Bandi Chor. The day has since been celebrated as Bandi Chor Divas when Sikhs light lamps on Diwali.

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