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Diwali And Bandi Chhor Divas – History – Reason

Bandi Chhor Divas, which translates to the "Day of Liberation," is a significant Sikh festival that commemorates the day when Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs, secured the release of 52 prisoners from Gwalior Fort. As per history, these prisoners had been incarcerated by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Interestingly, this celebration coincides with Diwali, the festival of lights widely observed in the Punjab region. Here is a look at the reason for celebrating Bandi Chhor Divas.

Emperor Jahangir had held 52 kings captive within the formidable walls of Gwalior Fort for an extended period. To mark this momentous event, a sacred site known as Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Sahib was established at the location where the Guru was held captive in the fort.

Bandi Chhor Divas is celebrated to remember Guru Hargobind's release from Gwalior prison, where he emerged from captivity accompanied by 52 prisoners and princes, each holding onto his robe with 52 ropes. Remarkably, Guru Hargobind led these 52 innocent rulers to freedom without resorting to war or battle.

The festivities of Bandi Chhor Divas typically include a Nagar keertan, a grand street procession, and an Akhand paath, the continuous recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism. Additionally, the day is marked by a spectacular fireworks display, and the Sri Harmandir Sahib, along with its surroundings, is adorned with thousands of gleaming lights. Gurdwaras organize continuous kirtan singing and feature special musicians. Sikhs consider this occasion an important time to visit Gurdwaras and spend quality time with their families.

Historical accounts suggest that when the Mughals captured Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh, they transformed it into a prison to detain individuals perceived as threats to the Mughal Sultanate. Among the prisoners, Emperor Jahangir had confined the sixth Sikh Guru, Hargobind Sahib, along with 52 kings. It is believed that Jahangir was compelled to release Guru Hargobind Sahib due to a spiritual revelation in a dream.

Recognizing his mistake, the Mughal emperor appealed to Guru Sahib for his return. In response, Guru Sahib insisted that he would not go alone but also spoke of the liberation of the imprisoned kings. Hence, a chola (robe) with 52 strings was crafted for Guru Sahib, and he emerged from the fort with each king clutching one of these strings, securing their freedom from imprisonment.

On the auspicious day of Diwali, Guru Hargobind Sahib, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs, arrived in Amritsar. After freeing the 52 kings from Jahangir's captivity in Gwalior Fort, Guru Sahib made his way to Akal Takht Sahib. The day was celebrated not only with fireworks but also with displays of martial prowess. The entire city of Amritsar was adorned with the radiance of countless lamps. This day is celebrated as 'Data Bandi Chhod Diwas,' signifying the special occasion of the liberator who sets others free from bondage.