What a wonderful time of year we have now embarked upon. In the UK and for many in the Northern Hemisphere we will obviously have to adapt to it getting darker earlier and a possible turn in the weather – a turn in the downwardly direction in terms of temperature! It won’t be long before the memory of chipping ice of your windscreen will come rushing back. Those winds will be cutting our faces in a reminder that winter is here. Let us all hope that it will be safe for us all.
At this time of year in London many festivities are co-inciding: Bon Fire night and the Festival of Lights for Hindus and also a time when Sikhs celebrate a special event.
There was a time when our sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind and Emperor Jahangir (son of Akbar) were friends. Over time, Jahangir became dictatorial. These emotions were combined with opportunist ministers who wished to protect their own positions and interests. Amongst them was Chandu who gave false information and unfounded accusations against our Guru. The Emperor ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Guru Har Gobind at the fort of Gwalior.
The Sikhs in Delhi and Amritsar protested at the foul play. Chandu wrote to Har Das, the commander of the Gwalior fort, ordering him to poison or murder the Guru; he was promised a large reward. Har Das had become a devotee to the Guru and placed all Chandu’s letters before the Guru.
There were many Rajahs and princes in the same prison. Queen Noor Jahan felt the unfair imprisonment of the Guru and convinced him to release the Guru. The Guru refused to leave the fort unless all the princes were released as well. The Emperor agreed and the Guru was hailed as ‘Bandi Chhor’. The news spread all over India.
After the release, the Guru went straight to Amritsar. On the way people sprinkled water on dusty roads, started Langars (free kitchens) and placed earthen lamps on their housetops at night. When he reached Amritsar, thousands of Sikhs thronged to see the Guru, and on the night of his arrival, placed lamps in the streets and on housetops and distributed sweets. This day is still celebrated every year, which coincides with Diwali.
Another event took place in 1737 and is also known as Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali) . Bhai Mani Singh transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1704 at Damdamma Sahib. After heavenly abode of Guru Sahib in 1708, he took charge of Harmandir Sahib’s management. In 1737, invitations were sent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. A large tax of rupees had to be paid to the Mogul governor of Punjab, Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya Khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh Ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Zakariya Khan was not happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh’s assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice & devotion of Bhai Mani Singh Ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali).