1. Release of Guru Hargobind Sahib and 52 Political Prisoners
Bandi Chhor Divus celebrates the release of Guru Hargobind Sahib and 52 other non-Sikh political prisoners from the Fort of Gwalior who were freed by Guru Ji in October 1619. Following their release, Guru Hargobind Ji arrived in Amritsar sahib, and the time period may have coincided with the Hindu festival of Diwali.
2. Bandi Chhor Divus and Diwali
Bandi Chhor Divus is not the same as Diwali. Diwali is largely celebrated by Hindus to mark the return of their Lord Raam after a long exile. When referring to the return of Guru Hargobind Ji, Sikhs should refer to the celebrations as Bandhi Chhor, instead of Diwali to avoid confusion.
3. How to celebrate
Although Sikhs light lamps and enjoy fireworks displays, this celebration is not required by the Sikh religion. Just like all festivals and celebrations, Sikhs should focus primarily on recitation of Gurbani to connect with the Guru and Waheguru.
4. One of the most widely celebrated Sikh festivals
Bandi Chhor Divus is celebrated by most Gurdwaras worldwide on a large scale, hence providing Sikhs with opportunity to listen to melodious kirtan and historical tales.
5. Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh Ji
The day of Bandi Chhor also co-incides with the martyrdom of Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Ji (money), who was arrested and martyred for calling a meeting of the Khalsa Nation at Darbar Sahib on the day of Bandi Chhor divus.
On this year’s Bandi Chhor Divus, lets connect with the Guru and remember his struggle to free prisoners from the Fort of Gwalior. Sikhs should recognize their moral duty to stand up for their own, and rights of others wherever they maybe. This day reminds us that we must stand against oppression of any kind. Lets pray to the Guru and seek his blessing for the release of hundreds of innocent Sikhs still languishing in jails across India, and for the rights of all others – including people of different faiths and religions.