Bandi Chhor celebrates the release of Guru Har Govind from prison during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lamps. The Guru had been held as a political prisoner for nearly two years in the Gwalior Fort. Many princes of the land had also been incarcerated. Upon news of his release, the Guru negotiated the freedom of whoever could grasp hold of his hem of his skirt. Guru Har Govind managed to liberate 52 Rajas by arranging to have ties sewn to the hem of his skirt he wore when he walked out of the fort.
Perhaps his inspiration came from the hymns of his father Guru Arjan Dev who wrote:
"Har Sajan divan lageeaa kisai na dae-a-ee ||
One cannot be kept in bondage who holds fast to the skirt of God our Friend." SGGS ||134
Sikhi Stye Bandi Chhor Lanterns
Photo © [S Khalsa]