Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bandi Shor Divas ਬੰਦੀ ਛੋੜ ਦਿਵਸ "Day of Liberation"

Sikhs in Singapore mark Bandi Chhor Diwas festival
Sikhs in Singapore at the festivities with the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Committee

Sikhs in Singapore celebrated Bandi Chhor Diwas on Wednesday (Oct 22). It is a religious festival that falls on Deepavali, and celebrates the liberation of the sixth guru.

Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah on Wednesday joined in the festivities with the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Committee. Several activities were lined up, including a Sikh martial arts performance.

Speaking at the event, Ms Indranee said the occasion promotes religious harmony and social cohesion, which is fitting for Singapore.

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Bandi Chhorh) Divas
Bandi Chorh Diwas is a day on which Guru Hargobind Sahib was released with 52 Kings from Gwalior Prison. The word "Bandi" means "imprisoned", "Chhor" means "release" and "Divas" means "day" and together "Bandi Chhor Divas" means Prisoner Release Day. It is celebrate with great joy as it was a time when "right" prevailed over "wrong"

Bandi Chorh Diwas and Diwali are separate festivals and the events actually fall on different days; however, commonly in the popular calendars, they are celebrated on the same day. For this reason, many people often think of these events as if they are the same. In real terms, the day of release of the sixth Guru with the 52 rajahs (kings) was actually a few days before Diwali in 1619.

These two celebrations represent two quite different events in history. On Bandi Chorh Diwas, the long imprisoned Guru Hargobind was released from Gwalior, taking with him 52 long imprisoned Rajas, whose release was a result of the Guru's wit.

Diwali (a Hindu festival) was being celebrated on the day when the Guru reached Amritsar. On the arrival of the Guru in Amritsar, the people lit up the whole city with thousands of candles, lights and lamps like they had never done before; there was much celebration and joy.
Bandi Chorh Diwas falls on the night of Amavas in the month of Assu; this actual Bandi Chorh Diwas is celebrated each year at Gurdwara Data Bandi Chor Sahib, Gwalior with much gaiety and joy, a few days before Diwali.

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Bandi Chor Divas

Bandi Shor (Shodh) Divas ("Day of Liberation") ( ਬੰਦੀ ਛੋੜ ਦਿਵਸ ) is a Sikh festival which occurs during the month of October/November in the solar calendar. It celebrates the release from prison in Gwalior of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him, in October 1619. Following their release, Guru Hargobind Ji arrived in Amritsar in the midst of the Diwali festival, and the day was henceforth associated with his liberation.

Bandi Shor (Shodh) Diwas and Diwali are separate festivals and commemorate events that may have occurred in different months; however, they are celebrated on the same day. For this reason, many people often think of these events as if they are the same. In real terms, the day of release of the sixth Guru with the 52 kings was actually a few days months after Diwali in 1619.

The word "Bandi" is translated from Punjabi into English as "Imprisoned" (or "Prisoner"), "Shor" (shodh) as "Release," and "Divas" as "Day," rendering "Bandi Shor (Shodh) Divas" from Punjabi into English as "Prisoners' Release Day."

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Happy Bandi Chhor Divas

Bandi Chhor Divas is the day we celebrate the return of the Guru. When Guru Hargobind was imprisoned in Gwalior fort, the Sikhs longed to have his sight. The Sikhs felt lost without the Guru. How would they get inspiration and guide their minds on the right path?

How long would they go until the Guru was finally released? How could they live without his presence? When Guru ji finally returned to the Akal Takht, and Harmandar Sahib, a celebration began that has continued every year since.

In today’s age, we have a similar situation. We know that there is a Guru. It's difficult to make sense out of this crazy life. We want to have the Guru’s guidance and teachings. We long to see the Guru and to be with the true sangat.

related: Bandi Chhor Divas

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The Sikh Festivals: Divali,Bandi Chhorh Divas
Guru Hargobind being released from the Gwalior Jail along with 52 Rajas, who held the strings attached to the dress of the Guru, hence the Guru was called Bandi Chhod

The Sikh celebration of the return of the sixth Nanak from detention in the Gwalior Fort coincides with Hindu festival of Diwali. This coincidence has resulted in similarity of celebration amongst Sikhs and Hindus.

The Sikhs celebrate this day as Bandi Chhorh Divas i.e., "the day of release of detainees", because the sixth Nanak had agreed to his release on the condition that the other fifty-two detainees would also be released. These other fifty-two detainees were the vassal kings who had done something to annoy the emperor.

Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the sixth Nanak because he was afraid of the Guru's growing following and power. The Sikhs on this day, which generally falls in october-November, hold a one-day celebrations 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.

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Bandi Chhor Diwas

Not only Hindus, but Sikhs also celebrate Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas, an important festival. More for historical reasons than religious, has acquired a very special significance in the Sikh tradition. It is said that the foundation stone for the Golden Temple was laid during the time of Diwali in 1577. The occasion of Bandi Chhor Diwas prompt the followers of Sikhism to celebrate the day with joy and happiness.

Diwali played an important role in the life of Sri Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs. When Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, arrested Guru Hargobind and put him in a prison in Gwalior, gloom descended upon Sikhs. But later Jehangir relented and let the Guru go. Accompanied by his followers and to the joy of many Sikhs, the Guru returned to Amritsar and made an appearance before his followers.

Thus, this day is very significant for people following Sikh religion. This festival can be best described in these words:

Golden temple illuminated for Diwali
An illuminated Golden Temple at Amritsar

Devotees pray inside the Golden Temple, Sikhs holy shrine, decorated with lights on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas, that coincides with the Diwali festival, in Amritsar on Wednesday.

The day marks the release of Guru Hargobind from from imprisonment in the famous fort of Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir in October, 1619. The reason for the young Guru’s imprisonment was nothing more than religious bigotry. He arrived in Amritsar on the day of Diwali and Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple) was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return; the day came to be known as the “Bandi Shor(Shodh) Divas” (the day of freedom).

Henceforth, the Sikhs celebrate this day every year.