Bandi Chhorh Diwas is a day on which Guru Hargobind Sahib was released with 52 Kings from Gwalior Prison. The word “Bandi” means “imprisoned”, “Chhor” means “release” and “Diwas” means “day” and together “Bandi Chhor Divas” means Prisoner Release Day. It is celebrated with great joy as it was a time when “right” prevailed over “wrong”.
The Mughals had held many hundreds of prisoners who were thought to be “political prisoners” but otherwise were innocent leaders of their communities. They had been held without trial or any other legal process; jailed by brutal force; held against their wishes.
The Guru had found a way to get 52 of these innocent leaders released from the prison without a battle. The Guru did not embrace his own fortune at the expense of the other prisoners and refused to leave the fort until all 52 of the Rajput princes were freed as well.
A condition was laid down by the Mughals that in order to be released from the fort, each prisoner must be hold on to the Guru’s cloak as he walked out of the prison gates. The Mughal Emperor was sure that a mere handful would be able to fulfill this condition.
The Guru delighted this challenge by ordering his tailor to make a special cloak with 52 tassels.
The Guru donned this heavy cloak and the 52 princes grasped the tassles of the cloak; 26 on the right and 26 on the left.
Walking behind the Guru, they stepped out in the sunlight of freedom.
From this time onwards, Guru Hargobind was known as Bandi (prison) Chhor (liberator), and the day of liberation is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas (day). It had been a long process as the Guru spent many years in custody, however, in the end the unjust government had to “give in” to the Guru’s just demands.
People light up the whole city with candles, lights, and lamps. On this day Harimandir Sahib is aglow with thousands of candles and floating lamps, strings of lights decorate the domes, and fireworks burst in the sky.
The shine and the warmth of the candles brighten the walkways & porch in front of the Gurdwara casting a glow upon the delightful young faces.
Sikhs commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas, by lighting hundreds of candles in the evening around the Gurdwara, chanting shabads in praise of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, preparing a festive Guru ka Langar, and basking in the spirit of joy and festivity.
~ Source: Sikhi Wiki
~ Edited by Tapasleen Kaur