Immy Kaur: Bandi Chhorh Divas as a reminder of freedom

Artwork depicting a candle for freedom (source: Huffington Post)

(source: Huffington Post)

As a Sikh I feel incredibly inspired by the courage and leadership that the sixth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Sahib Jee, showed in 1619. The Sikhs celebrate this event as ‘Bandi Chorr’ at the same time as the Diwali festival. There are a number of messages that come from Guru Sahib’s compassion and determination during his captivity, and when ensuring the release of the 52 Hindu kings with him, despite the chance to be freed alone. For me, Guru Sahib fought with dignity for justice not only for himself but also for the Hindu kings who were in captivity. This is a shining example of bold courage and leadership, and Guru Sahib’s practical application and display of compassion to justice and people of all faiths.

— Immy Kaur discusses the significance of Bandi Chhorh Divas — what Sikhs celebrate during Diwali — as a model for us to follow in the pursuit of justice. Read more on the Huffington Post.


  1. HS Vachoa

    it’s not a matter of tradition but common sense, truth and principles. if this is for real it is important to know who are these 52 King’s but there is no evidence to suggest their existence.

    Secondly, I can’t find any significance of the practice of mass lighting in Sikh spirituality. Which guru advocated this practice?

    There is further issue of principles. No Guru advocated doing mass festivities in their name as Sikh spirituality.

    Why is there no evidence of later Gurus celebrating Diwali?

    • “Common sense” doesn’t invalidate oral tradition. Much of Sikh history was not recorded in literature, and a lot that was, was lost in tumultuous times.

      On the aspect of mass lighting of candles, I agree with you. I’ve always felt that the lighting of candles is not a recognized spiritual practice in Sikhi. It is done by Sikhs on Diwali, and we’ve adopted the practice in vigils (which, in that case, I don’t think its purpose is worship). The Gurus advocated that we worship through our actions rather than candlelit lamps.

      Third, while no Gurus advocated doing festivities in their name, I do not see commemorating these events today as inconsistent with Sikhi. These days are not “holy” days per se, but it is important to recognize and celebrate our history.

      Did the Gurus celebrate Diwali? Maybe not, or maybe. It was/is Hindu tradition that many Sikhs will celebrate culturally. If Sikhs acknowledge Bandi Chhor Divas, and if we accept tradition that it occurred during Diwali, then that is a different discussion.

  2. HS Vachoa

    So,, you are saying you will believe in a tradition even if it defies common sense?

    Secondly, you’re contradicting yourself, you’re are agreeing that there is possible violation of principles involved here, but still okay with it.

    Thirdly, you are saying Sikhs are just doing it because of Hindus. Well! Hindus also follow Caste. Should we just do it because of Hindus?

  3. HS Vachoa

    Well, then elaborate why should we celebrate something that defies common sense and has no historical basis?

    What is the significance of Diwali in Sikh spirituality? This is unclear.

    Why should a Hindu tradition(as you accept Diwali to be) be celebrated as part of Sikhism?

    • I’m not sure why you’re asking me to elaborate on your opinions. However, let me clarify a few things so that I am not misunderstood.

      I don’t believe that the story of Bandi Chhor Divas is necessarily contrary to a notion of “common sense”. If you feel that, because there is no literary record of Guru Hargobind’s imprisonment and release, Bandi Chhor Divas has no historical basis and therefore should not be celebrated, that is entirely within your right.

      I have not advocated any spiritual significance of the Hindu tradition of Diwali to Sikhi. As far as I am aware, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas according to Sikh tradition. If Sikhs have appropriated the cultural practices of Diwali to commemorate this historical event outside of the Gurdwara, I don’t see this as a means of worship or a spiritual practice.

      You are, of course, entitled to your own interpretations.

  4. Pingback: Aad Guray Nameh | this time – this space


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