On Diwali, Amritsar set to celebrate its rich history with ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’

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    On Diwali, Amritsar set to commemorate its rich history with ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’

    Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar
    | Amritsar |

    Updated: November 14, 2020 11: 06: 45 am





    A Nihang Sikh feeds his horse in Amritsar. (Express Image: Rana Simranjit Singh)

    In addition to diyas and fireworks, it is the rich history of Amritsar that comes alive as Sikh martial bodies or ‘ Nihang Singh Jathebandis’ descend upon the city as events for Diwali and ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ begin.

    Bandi Chhor Diwas (prisoner release day) is commemorated to mark the historical release of the 6th Sikh expert, Master Hargobind, from the Mughal prison together with 52 kings in early 17 th century.

    Baba Budha Ji, the very first head Granthi of Darbar Sahib had actually begun the custom of lighting earth lamps at Golden Temple to commemorate the return of Master Hargobind.

    Jathedar Balbir Singh, head of the Budha Dal, a martial faction, states it is centuries old custom among Sikhs to collect at Golden Temple on Bandi Chhor Diwas. “Budha Dal had actually begun Akhand Path at Gurdwara Mal Akhara Sahib, traditionally associated to Guru Hargobind Sahib ji. Bhog will be hung on Diwali day. We will attend the gathering at Akal Takht on Saturday where Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh would check out a message for the neighborhood,” stated Jathedar Balbir Singh.

    First recommendations of Diwali events as a neighborhood amongst Sikhs date back to the third master, Expert Amar Das, in the 16 th century. Nevertheless, the biggest chapter was added in the Sikh history and Diwali at Amritsar, when Guru Hargobind Sahib returned from Gwalior Fort, where he had actually been put behind bars by Mughal Emperor Jahangir on the pretext that a fine troubled his dad, Expert Arjan, had actually not been paid by the Sikhs.

    According to the Sikh history, Master Hargobind was released from the jail on Diwali. As he went out of the Gwalior Fort prison, according to the Sikh history, he also protected the release of 52 kings. Sinc then he has been hailed as ‘Bandi Chhor’ (one who frees).

    After Guru Gobind Singh passed away in 1708, Sikhs dealt with the difficulty of keeping control of the Golden Temple. Often nestling in forests, Sikh factions would collect at the Golden Temple on Diwali every year to hold Sarbat Khalsa to make all essential choices and fix internal and external conflicts.

    Diwali became a yearly invitation for all Sikh factions in any part of world to reach Amritsar for ‘Sarbat Khalsa’. At times, Mughal rulers wished to prevent Sikhs from attending Diwali at Amritsar.

    In 1737, Bhai Mani Singh, then administrator of the Golden Temple, assured to pay a big quantity to then Governor of Lahore, Zakaria Khan, to enable safe passage and return to Sikhs for Diwali celebrations in Amritsar. Later, Bhai Mani Singh came to understand that Zakaria Khan was preparing mass execution of Sikhs by making them come to Amritsar. Mani Singh immediately sent a message to Sikhs to not concern Amritsar. He also failed to pay the guaranteed quantity to Zakaria Khan as the cash was to be organized from the offerings by Sikhs on Diwali. Zakaria Khan got Mani Singh executed at Lahore for stopping working to pay the guaranteed quantity.

    On the event of Diwali in 1761, a choice to attack Lahore was taken at a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ event. The Sikh warriors killed Ubaid Khan, the then Afghan Governor of Lahore in a fight, and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was declared ‘Sultan-ul-qaum’.

    The festivity of Diwali returned to Golden Temple and the city as quickly as Sikh misls began managing Amritsar in last quarter of the 18 th century and later Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled Punjab.

    Throughout British guideline, the British officers would likewise especially come to see the Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple.

    Keeping the custom alive, martial bodies and common Sikhs concern the Golden Temple every Diwali where the sitting Akal Takht Jathedar reads out a message for the neighborhood. Martial bodies likewise show their martial abilities a day after Diwali in Amritsar.

    ” We will start ‘Mohala’ (march of martial bodies) from Buraj Akali Baba Phula Singh and it would go through different parts of city to reach Railway Ground B-block where Nihangs will display their martial skills on Sunday. It is a long and rich history. The festivity of Diwali at Amritsar is likewise a homage to those Sikhs who were not even allowed to get in the city in the 18 th century. It is symbol of victory of Khalsa,” said Balbir Singh.

    The Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) also makes unique arrangements for the lighting and fireworks on this celebration.

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