There are some key cultural events over the next few weeks for some of our colleagues and we send best wishes for these celebrations.

This year, Diwali falls on Thursday, 4 November. Diwali is an important religious festival originating in India. People often think of Diwali as a Hindu festival, but it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.

Bandi Chhor Divas is a Sikh holiday which coincides with the day of Diwali (4 November). Also known as ‘The Celebration of Freedom’, Bandi Chhor Divas commemorates the release of the sixth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Ji from prison.

Diwali | 4 November

Diwali takes place annually and lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year. The exact dates change each year and are determined by the position of the moon – but it usually falls between October and November.

The word Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s sometimes called) means ‘row of lights’ in the ancient Sanskrit language of India. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas.

For many people, Diwali honours the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. The lights and lamps are said to help Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come.

It’s also a celebration of good triumphing over evil, and different legends based on this theme are associated with Diwali.

Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs. Food is a major focus with families partaking in feasts and sharing mithai (sweets).

Bandi Chhor Divas | 4 November

Bandi Chhor Divas is a Sikh holiday which coincides with the day of Diwali. Bandi Chhor Divas, also known as ‘The Celebration of Freedom’, commemorates the release of the sixth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Ji, in 1619 CE from prison. Sri Guru Hargobind took 52 other prisoners to freedom along with him.

The Bandi Chhor Divas is celebrated in a manner similar to Diwali, with the lighting of homes and Gurdwaras, feasts, gift giving and family time. Sikhs consider this occasion as an important time to visit Gurdwaras (place of worship for Sikhs) and spend time with their families.

Photo credits

Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas images: wikipedia.com