Why do Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas SO much?
I grew up in a family of mixed faiths and mixed religions so naturally I grew up celebrating multiple holidays at multiple places of worship. As a kid, I would question why we do certain things but I always got vague answers and so my visions of understanding always had stopping points. One of these limited understanding holidays was and is Diwali. I was told that it was the festival of lights! A holiday to celebrate the triumph of good vs. evil! Yeah!!! Let me get my candles and incense and let's light everything up and eat tons of sweets!!!
Fast forward a few years. Oh wait, I'm a Sikh not a Hindu so I shouldn't celebrate Diwali.
*Blows out Candle*
Oh wait, Guru Hargobind Sahib the sixth Sikh Guru was released from prison on Diwali day in 1619? AND he released 52 princes along with him??? And this is called Bandi Chhor Divas?Whaaatttttt????!!!
*Lights up candle again*
Now I can light up candles at Gurudwara!? I'm such a good Sikh! Pass me those laddoos, will ya?
There's just one problem. Well, there are actually many problems. There was this thought in the back of my mind that bothered me every single year. We have 9 other Gurus. We have Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. There are so many other notable moments in Sikh history. Why are we celebrating this one SO much?
Our first Guru, Guru Nanak was also captured by a Mughal Emperor: Babar. Upon his release, Guru Nanak also requested that every prisoner that did not commit a crime be released as well. His wish was granted and he and thousands of prisoners were released from Babar's prison. Why are we not celebrating this moment with the same excitement and passion that we celebrate today's Bandi Chor Divas with?
Is it because I couldn't find the exact date that this event happened on? Is it because I couldn't find the exact number of prisoners that were released? (Although one site told me 11,111!) Or is it simply because it didn't happen on the day of Diwali?
What about all of the battles and wars that our brave Sikh ancestors fought? What about those soldiers who were able to return home after tirelessly fighting and giving up their lives? Do they not deserve a candle too?
What about those nights (midnights to be exact) when brave Sikh men went out and rescued Sikh and Hindu girls who were captured by the Mughals and safely returned them home? Do they not deserve a candle too?
Who decides which holidays and which moments in history we celebrate and who decides in what manner we celebrate them with?
I'm not trying to take Bandi Chor Divas away from you. I'm actually wanting to do the opposite. I'm actually trying to add more to your plate. And to my plate. As I write this blog I am frustrated with myself because I don't know dates, places, names or anything. I am trying to Google Sikh History so that I can somewhat be accurate in this blog but it's not working out too well. Hence the reason for why I have not mentioned any dates or historical references. And so, this is my request to myself and to you all. . . . .
Sure, light up a candle. Especially the scented ones, I love the scented ones. ;)
But, in addition, let's pick up a book. Let's talk to our elders at home and at Gurudwara. Let's learn more about our history. Not just Bandi Chhor Divas because it coincidently happened on Diwali. Let's learn, remember, celebrate, and cherish ALL of our Gurus.
Because we are not kids anymore. We don't have to be stuck in a world of limited knowledge and understanding. We have so many resources now than ever before. (Too many perhaps) If you think about it, the majority of our Ardas is history. The majority of our Ardas is remembering so many of those who sacrificed so much for us. And all of those days are important. All of those days should be remembered. Every single one of them.
Bhull Chuk Maaf