In the 16th century, Guru Hargobind sahib was held captive in Gwalior Fort by Emperor Jahangir. It is believed that he was still a child when he was jailed on the pretext that a fine imposed on Guru Arjan had not been paid by the Sikhs and Guru Hargobind. While differing accounts exist, Persian records, such as Dabistan i Mazahib suggest he was kept in jail for twelve years. Others say that he was released at the age of 16.
The day of his release, alongside 52 Hindu kings and princes who he would lead to safety, is celebrated by Sikhs across the world as Bandi Chhor Divas. The occasion is often marked with fireworks, lights and events such as kirtan singing and a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. This is an important occasion for Sikhs to visit gurudwaras and to spend time with their families.
On Saturday, even as hundreds took to social media platforms to wish each other a happy Diwali, many others welcomed the occasion of Bandi Chhor Divas. In Punjab, devotees were spotted taking a holy dip in the 'Sarovar' at Golden Temple in Amritsar and offering prayers. A video shared by news agency ANI showed the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar lit up ahead of the occasion.
Marking the occasion, many leaders from across the world have wished the Sikh community on Bandi Chhor Divas. This includes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who took to Twitter with a video noting that the celebrations this year would be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I know that this year celebrations will be different, but I am filled with respect for the way British Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have gone out of their way to help others throughout this pandemic," he added.