Celebrating Bandi Chhor Divas: The Sikh Festival of Liberation


Bandi Chhor Divas is a significant Sikh festival that is celebrated to mark the release of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru, along with 52 other princes, from imprisonment in the Gwalior Fort by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The term “Bandi Chhor” means “Deliverer from Prison” – the event symbolizes freedom from oppression and the triumph of light over darkness. This festival holds immense cultural and spiritual significance for the Sikh community around the world.

Historical Background

The story of Bandi Chhor Divas dates back to the early 17th century when Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort. His compassionate nature led to him caring for the other imprisoned princes as well. Emperor Jahangir, impressed by the Guru’s persona, agreed to release him. However, Guru Hargobind Ji refused to leave until all the captive princes were also set free. Jahangir agreed, but with a condition that as many princes as could hold onto the Guru’s cloak could leave with him. In a display of his strategic brilliance, the Guru had a special cloak made with 52 tassels attached to it, allowing all the princes to hold onto it simultaneously and walk out to freedom.

Significance of Bandi Chhor Divas

Bandi Chhor Divas is a day of celebration, gratitude, and reflection for Sikhs around the world. It symbolizes the triumph of righteousness, compassion, and freedom from oppression. The festival brings the community together to remember the heroic deeds of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and to reflect on the importance of standing up for justice and truth.

How Bandi Chhor Divas is Celebrated

Gurdwara Decorations: Gurdwaras are adorned with lights, candles, and diyas to symbolize the spiritual victory of light over darkness.

Kirtan and Katha: Special prayers, hymns, and readings from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji are organized in Gurdwaras to commemorate the event.

Nagar Kirtan: Processions are carried out in the streets with the Guru Granth Sahib Ji being paraded to spread the message of peace and liberation.

Community Service: Sikhs engage in seva (selfless service) by organizing langar (community meals) and participating in charitable activities to express gratitude and to serve those in need.

Fireworks: In some regions, fireworks are displayed to celebrate the joyous occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the spiritual significance of Bandi Chhor Divas?

Bandi Chhor Divas holds deep spiritual significance as it teaches the values of compassion, righteousness, and standing up against oppression. It serves as a reminder to always choose the path of truth and justice.

2. How is Bandi Chhor Divas different from Diwali?

While Bandi Chhor Divas coincides with the Hindu festival of Diwali, they hold different historical and cultural significances. Bandi Chhor Divas specifically celebrates the release of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji from imprisonment, while Diwali commemorates different mythological events.

3. What are the key rituals associated with Bandi Chhor Divas celebrations?

Key rituals include decorating Gurdwaras with lights, organizing kirtan and katha, conducting nagar kirtan processions, engaging in community service through langar seva, and sometimes fireworks to mark the occasion.

4. Why is the story of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s release significant in Sikh history?

The story of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s release symbolizes the values of selflessness, compassion, and standing up against injustice. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of fighting for freedom and righteousness.

5. How do Sikhs observe Bandi Chhor Divas outside of Gurdwaras?

Apart from Gurdwara celebrations, Sikhs observe Bandi Chhor Divas by spending time with family, reflecting on the teachings of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, and engaging in acts of kindness and service to the community.


In conclusion, Bandi Chhor Divas is a festival of immense significance for the Sikh community, celebrating the liberation of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and emphasizing the values of justice, compassion, and freedom. The festival serves as a reminder to uphold these values in our lives and always strive for righteousness. Through its rituals and celebrations, Bandi Chhor Divas unites Sikhs in gratitude, reflection, and service to commemorate a pivotal moment in Sikh history.

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