Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Bandi Chorr Divas

My warmest wishes go out to everyone celebrating Divali today. And may the Khalsa be blessed and learn from the message of Bandi Chhor Divas.

Sikhs often take this day as an opportunity to remember how the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Jee, was released from jail and how, with his selflessness, perserverance and wit, Guru Jee had 52 persecuted Hindu rajas released with him. On Guru Jee's return, Divali was being celebrated. Although it didn't actually fall on the same day, we commemorate the day of Divali under the name Bandi Chhor Divas.

But in all honesty, how important in this day to the Sikh Panth? How much of a major part does it play in our history compared to everything else? Is it so important that it deserves more hype and celebration than the Prakash Purabs of all our Gurus, more remembrance than Guru Tegh Bahadur Jee's shaheedi where he gave his life to defend the persecuted Hindu and Sikh faiths alike, more remembrance than the countless lives lost in jangs and the countless lives saved by our Gurus? Do we celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Jee's release from jail? Do we celebrate anything, other than Vaisakhi and Guru Nanak Dev Jee's Prakash Purab, anywhere near as much as Bandi Chhor Divas?

In reality, we have shaped things to fit in with our own personal preferences. Over the years, because of our Indian heritage, Sikhs have adopted Divali as their own. Because we want to celebrate along with the rest of India, we have placed religious significance on this day. Despite it's relatively minor significance, we hold it to be more important than almost anything else.I am not trying to undermine this victory of our Guru.

I am not asking the Khalsa to stop their celebrations. However I do urge you to look into your history and to put it into perspective. I ask you to recognise all of the achievements, wisdom and courage of the Gurus. I ask your to recognise their blessings and their sacrifices. I ask you not to let your faith be clouded by cultural traditions. I ask you to take on board the beautiful message of Bandi Chhor and to apply this to yiur lives and your Sikhi. I ask you to be mindful of what you are celebrating. I ask you to be aware of the many things that we perhaps ought to be remembering and celebrating. Most importantly, I ask you to stay true to the teachings of your Guru. I ask you to celebrate your Guru, always, no matter what the day.

Bhul chuk maaf karna jee. Vaheguroo!

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