Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why do Sikhs celebrate Diwali ?

The festival of Divali is an important event for most of the South Asian community. For Hindus it represents the day when the mythological god King Rama came back to his capital after 12 years of exile. Rama’s subjects were so happy to see him that they lit divas (lamps) and set of firecrackers in honour of the event. Even today Hindus celebrate this event with great happiness and joy. On this day they worship fire and the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Why do Sikhs celebrate Divali? When we look into most history books, we can gather that the reason that Divali is celebrated is as follows :

After the torture and death of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, by the order of Jahangir (the emperor of India at the time), the Mogul administration started to become uneasy due to the sudden popularity of Sikhism. Chandu, an advisor of Jahangir, was the one who had suggested the torture of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji. He suddenly felt threatened at the popularity of the Sikhs and decided to advise the king to get rid of the next Guru of the Sikhs as well. Jahangir decided that this was a good idea and summoned Guru Hargobind Ji to his court where he had Guru Ji imprisoned in Gwalior fort where 52 innocent Hindu Princes were imprisoned as well. During imprisonment, the Guru noticed that all the princes were depressed and forlorn with their treatment in the jail and were in very unhealthy conditions. The Guru helped the princes regain their health and taught them spiritually. When the Guru was granted freedom, he refused to leave until he had gained the release of the 52 Hindu kings too. The emperor then said that all those princes that could hold on the Guru’s clothes would be liberated as well. Guru Ji had a special cloak made which had 52 strings sewed on it and each prince held on to a string. Thus all prisoners were freed. It was in this respect that Guru Hargobind became known as “Bandi Chor” or the Releaser of Prisoners. When Guru Ji reached Amritsar, it was Divali day and Sikhs celebrated the homecoming of the Guru by lighting diyas. To this day Sikhs celebrate Divali and in honour of Guru Hargobind Ji and his return.

So, it’s really quite simple. Sikhs do have their own Diwali … right? Maybe not.