History and Holiday of Bandi Chhor and Diwali

Guru Hargobind Freedom From Imprisonment and the Festival of Lamps

Bandi Chhor Sikh O Lantern
Bandi Chhor Sikh O Lantern. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Bandi Chhor and Diwali Holiday:

Bhandi Chhor (Chhorr) is a commemorative holiday relating to Sixth Guru Har Govind and is celebrated by many Sikhs worldwide during Diwali the Hindu Festival of Lamps. Diwali festivities take place annually during October and November. Diwali celebrations take place over a period of four days. Traditionally the Sikhs of Punjab celebrate Bandi Chhor on the last day of Diwali, however in modern times, especially in the West, Bandi Chhor may be celebrated on the closest convenient weekend.

Festivities for Sikhs consist mainly of stringing lights, or lighting lamps during kirtan programs taking place at home, or the gurdwara.

Bandi Chhor and Diwali History:

Several incidents took place over a fifteen year period of time which led up to an event involving Sixth Guru Har Govind, around the season of Diwali which has come to be commemorated by Sikhs as Banid Chhor.

1604 - Arjun Dev, the fifth Sikh guru, completed the construction of Harmandir, the Golden Temple, and installed the scripture Adi Granth.

1606 - The Mughal emperor Jahangir learned that certain verses in the Granth mentioned Muslim practices. He saw this as a threat to Islam and arrested the Guru, demanding the text be altered and imposing a fine of 200,000 rupees. The Guru refused insisting the monies belonged to the Sikhs, and that scripture in praise of God could not be changed. Jahangir had Guru Arjun Dev imprisoned in the Lahore jail and turned him over to a local official Murtaza Khan.

Standing by his principles Guru Arjun accepted martyrdom and declared his son Har Govind as the sixth guru.

Following his father’s death, Guru Har Govind built the throne of Akal Takhat, to institute the governing of Sikhs. He mustered and armed a battalion of men and horses. The guru wore two swords symbolizing (Piri) spiritual and (Miri) secular authority.

1617 - Conspiracies abounded in the mogul courts. Jahangir’s advisers collaborated to have Guru Har Govind sent to Gwalior Fort where they kept him as a prisoner. Later the emperor decided to release Guru Har Govind during Diwali. Har Govind negotiated the release of other political prisoners who had been detained in the fort during his imprisonment. He arranged to be able to take with him whoever could grasp the skirt of his robe.

1619 - When the gates opened to release Guru Har Govind, he walked out with 52 princes who had been his fellow prisoners. All of them held fast to strings which he had sewn to his clothing. This act became known as Bandi Chhor, meaning "the freedom from imprisonment", and is celebrated traditionally by Sikhs during Diwali, the festivities of lights, lamps, and lanterns.

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Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "History and Holiday of Bandi Chhor and Diwali." ThoughtCo, Jun. 30, 2015, thoughtco.com/history-holiday-bandi-chhor-and-diwali-2992981. Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2015, June 30). History and Holiday of Bandi Chhor and Diwali. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-holiday-bandi-chhor-and-diwali-2992981 Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "History and Holiday of Bandi Chhor and Diwali." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-holiday-bandi-chhor-and-diwali-2992981 (accessed December 12, 2017).