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Sikhs mark 'Bandi Chor Diwas' on Diwali festival
by Ravinder Singh Robin

     Amritsar: While Hindus around the world celebrate their biggest festival of lights Diwali with full enthusiasm, Sikhs celebrate the day as `Bandi Chor Diwas' or, the day of release of detainees. Sikh history traces these celebrations way back to the 17th century. It was during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir when they got into conflict with Sikhs. The Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind secured the release of not only himself but also 56 other kings who had been imprisoned at the Gwalior Fort. And, on this day the Guru and the Kings returned to Amritsar to a glorious welcome. Since then Diwali festival means the marking of the historical event for the Sikhs. Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar, Sri Akal Takth said: "Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. Every religion has its own way to celebrate the festival. Our Hindu brothers celebrate Diwali to mark the return of Lord Rama. Now, Muslims have also started celebrating it. Sikhs celebrate Diwali as `Bandhi Chor Diwas' (detainees' release day). To celebrate this day, number of religious gatherings are organized. Sri Darbar Sahib arranges all the celebrations like installing special tents and arranging community meals." He added: "The message of this sacred day is that like Guru Hargobind was not having any dispute with anyone. We should also follow the same path. He had always worked to help people against poverty and injustice. Though Guru Ji was not having any relation with Rajput kings but for seeing the injustice to them he put a condition of their release along with him." In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on the day of Diwali. In fact the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das asked all his disciples to assemble to receive the blessings of the Guru. Since then, millions of Sikhs pay their obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib (the Golden temple) on this day and participate in the religious and cultural functions. The bustling activity is a mixture of gay enthusiasm and religious obeisance. Diwali celebrations at the golden temple over the years have indeed become a spectacle. It is not for nothing they say, `Dal roti ghar ki, Diwali Amritsar ki', (There's nothing like food cooked at home but nothing compares celebrating Diwali at Amritsar).
-Oct 20, 2008

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