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Happy Diwali- What it means to Sikhs (Harleen’s Blog)

26 Oct

One of my fondest memories of celebrating Diwali was when my Grandfather turned 100 years. He said he remembers celebrating his birthday during Diwali and there was no exact birth date. As a family we called it a happy coincidence and carried on the tradition of an extended family meal, candles and fireworks. After Diwali comes the Hindu New Year, yet our Sikh New Year came in Vaisakhi which happens every April, so the connection used to somewhat confuse me at times. So why was Diwali important to the Sikhs?
I met up with the learned Mr Upkar Singh who has studied the Sikh scriptures or Gurbani and he explained to me a very beautiful story of a warrior and his release. It was 1620 A.D. and Mughal Emperor Jahangir was edgy and arresting religious fundamentalists in his quest to take over the entire Hindustan (India). Jahangir is a Persian word for “Conqueror of the World” and he was the son of Emperor Akbar and his mother was the Rajput princess Jodhabhai (the Bollywood film Jodha-Akbar was based on their marriage). Jahangir was born as Prince Muhammad Salim, and actor Dilip Kumar played his role in the famous epic Mughal-e-azam. He grew up an Islamist and was known to be a fair judge but his rule compelled Hindus to convert to Islam.
In Sikh history at the time, the fifth Guru Arjan Devji was summoned to convert after being called to the court on pretext of other matters. When Arjan refused to accept a fine and change a few verses in the Sikh scriptures (Siri Guru Granth Sahib) he was put to torture and burned in scorching heat. Jahangir went on to write in his biography “a Hindu named Arjan lived at Goindwal…simple minded Hindus and ignorant and foolish Muslims have been persuaded to adopt his ways… this business (shop) has been flourishing for three generations. For long time it had been in my mind to put a stop to this affair or to bring him into the fold of Islam…”
Guru Arjan Devji’s son, Har Gobindji followed in his father’s footsteps of standing up against the conversion and atrocities from the Mughal Empire. He is known to wear two swords one to signify his temporal and the other his spiritual authority known as the concept of Meeri and Peeri. He was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Gwalior where he met the Hindu Kings who soon became his followers too. Rumor spread far that he was raising an army to avenge his father’s death. But Har Gobind Ji knew better and spent nearly a year in the prison as a peaceful man as his popularity grew despite his incarceration. Sain Mian Mir who was a close friend Har Gobind’s father Arjan and is believed to have laid the foundation of the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar convinced Jahangir to release Har Gobind Ji.
Guru Ji wanted to leave but on one condition and that was the release of the Hindu Kings imprisoned for political reasons. Jahangir allowed it saying that as many kings who could hold Guru Ji’s cloak could leave, 52 kings walked free. This day coincided with Diwali celebrations and as a result there was huge celebration with lamps lit all around Amritsar. Guru Hargobind Ji was referred to as the Liberator (Bandi-Chhor) and struggle against the Mughals didn’t come to an end until 1699 when the tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji led his army against them and gave birth to the Khalsa Panth (Sikhism) which we celebrate as our birth and New Year (Vaisakhi). Until then the Sikhs shared Diwali as part of their culture with the Hindus, with the significance being the winning of Good over Evil and the return of Lord Ram.
Thereafter over the years due to modernization and integration, Diwali has become a more cultural activity of meeting up with your family and friends, having a wonderful meal and fun with the children as they blow firecrackers.

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2 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “Happy Diwali- What it means to Sikhs (Harleen’s Blog)

  1. G S MANKOO

    October 26, 2011 at 13:47

    I appreciate your efforts to explain to the SIKHS as per the History of Sikh Gurus, so i appeal to all Sikh masses to celebrate this day BANDI CHHOR DIVAS . As a good human beings we must share our happiness with our brothers from other religions.

     
    • harleenjabs

      October 26, 2011 at 17:01

      Thanks a lot, I have lit 52 candles in honor of this.

       

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