Today marks Diwali, the “festival of lights”, which is celebrated all over India (the Huffington Post queries whether Diwali’s growing popularity should make it the next new American holiday). Diwali has its origins in the Hindu tradition, however it has a different historical significance for Sikhs, who on this day celebrate Bandhi Chorh Divas. On this day, Sikhs celebrate the release of Sikhism’s sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, from prison in 1619. He also secured the release of 52 other Indian princes with his own (as described on this blog before). The artwork above, produced by Inkquisitive Illustrations, is an eye-catching commemoration of this day in Sikh history.
Sikhs celebrate in congruence with the rest of India – by lighting candles and lanterns in the evening at home and around the Gurdwara (see Diwali celebrations at Harmandir Sahib – Sikhism’s central shrine in Amritsar, India and also known as the Golden Temple). Fireworks in the sky also accompany the lights on the ground. For Sikhs, it’s a celebration of liberation and activism.
The author T. Sher Singh writes an interesting piece on sikhchic.com, where he explains the significance of Diwali for Sikhs and describes his Diwali memories:
And then, all hell broke loose … or, to be more accurate, was let loose! The next three hours were a series of blinding, deafening, dazzling, terrifying conflagrations. But the best part was to watch, from our fifth-floor roof-top, similar orchestrations from virtually every household in sight. Until clouds of smoke and the acrid smell of burnt explosives enveloped the city, and we ran out of things to blow up or explode.
It’s certainly a joyous celebration regardless of religious background.
Happy Bandhi Chorh Divas!