Sikhs also celebrate Diwali as the period during which the foundation stone for the Golden Temple was laid during in 1577. Diwali (also known as Bandi Chhorh Divas) played an important role in the life of Sri Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs. When Jahangir, the Mughal emperor, arrested Guru Hargobind and put him in a prison in Gwalior, gloom descended upon Sikhs. But later Jehangir relented and let the Guru go. Accompanied by his followers and to the joy of many Sikhs, the Guru returned to Amritsar and made an appearance before his followers. The occasion was Diwali and it prompted the followers to celebrate the day with joy and happiness.
Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the sixth Nanak because he was afraid of the Guru's growing following and power. The Sikhs on this day hold a one-day celebration in the Gurdwaras. In the evening, illuminations are done with Deewé (earthen oil lamps) or candles and fireworks. The celebrations are held both in the Gurdwaras and in homes.
The story of Diwali for the Sikhs is a story of the Sikh struggle for freedom. From the time of Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539), the founder of Sikhism, popular seasonal or folk festivals like the harvest festival of Vaisakhi began to take on a new significance for the Guru’s students, the Sikhs. The Guru used these festivals and special days e.g. first day of each lunar month, as symbols or pegs for his teaching themes.
Early in the morning, pilgrims take a holy dip in the sacred tank while reciting Japji Sahib, and thereafter they go to the Golden Temple to make obeisance. They make offerings of various kinds both in cash and kind, such as flowers, candy-drops and parched-rice grains, but mostly the offerings are of karah parshad, which is prepared and sold to the pilgrims by the management. Circumambulation of the tank is considered sacred by the pilgrims.
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