Black Diwali

Diwali, aka ‘the festival of lights’, is notoriously celebrated by Hindus all over the world.

But why exactly do they celebrate it?

To put it plainly and simply they mark this special day in honour of Rama and Sita and their long-awaited return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile and the defeat of the evil demon king, Ravana. Lamps are also lit to help the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, find her way into people’s homes.

But unbeknownst by many, Diwali is not just exclusive to Hinduism. In fact Jains celebrate it too, in recognition of Lord Mahavir’s attainment of freedom from reincarnation. Buddhists remember Emperor Ashoka and how he converted to Buddhism on this day. And Sikhs commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind (their 6th Guru) and 52 princes from their imprisonment by the tyrannical Emperor Jahangir.

So how is Diwali typically celebrated?

Whenever October/November time rolls around, you’ll find that Diwali is marked by a succession of grand fireworks displays, the lighting of candles, people dressing up to the nines in beautiful Indian attire, getting together with family and then filling their stomachs with the most delicious sweet and savoury dishes.

This year however, things will be a little different, well for Sikhs any way.

Today Sikhs all over the world will be observing a ‘Black Diwali’, meaning that there will be no candles or fireworks displays in their celebrations owing to recent incidents of sacrilege in Punjab. By this I’m referring to the multiple cases that have come to light in the last month or so in which copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj (their Holy Book) were found ripped apart in various Gurdwaras (temples) across Punjab. Upon discovering this, a number of Sikh locals began protesting in defiance of the disrespect and lack of counter-action taken by Punjab’s Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal. Local police officers made the decision to halt protesters by haphazardly opening fire, killing two men and injuring many more in the process, which as you can imagine has done nothing but to fuel the already tempestuous flames of hostility in the North-Indian state. And now protesters are demanding that those guilty of desecrating the Holy Book are arrested and also that compensation be paid to the families of the two men who lost their lives at the hands of the police.

As a result, out of respect, the entire Sikh congregation worldwide has united and agreed to refrain from the usual celebrations and will instead reflect upon the gravity of what has been occurring in Punjab. After the ‘Black Diwali’ of 1984, this will be the third time that there will be no celebrations of Diwali at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

23 replies

  1. My heartfelt wishes are with you !!
    Although I have been reading in the news;
    I felt a personal touch reading this !!
    Whatever ..
    “a ‘Black Diwali’, or normal Diwali” …
    lets all sincerely pray for a peaceful tomorrow !!

  2. Thank you for the explanation of Diwali, and prayers for you and yours. I am always sad when any holy book is desecrated. It should never happen. Praying we all find a way forward to live and worship in peace.

  3. I can only second previously-written comments here, in that I think what has occasioned this is a sad thing; and that it would be better if we (speaking collectively of humanity) could learn to live more peacefully and respectfully with one another. A ray of light shines through this incident, however, in that it shows how a religious community that is dispersed around the world can come together and show solidarity in a peaceful way and also find people from other religious communities joining in that solidarity. For me, this night is when I observe Samhain, the thinning of the veil between our world and the world of spirit – I will offer prayers for the spirits of those who were killed while protesting this injustice. Thank you for sharing this information – I was unaware of it until reading here.

    • I’m happy to have shed some light on this subject for you and I completely agree, tough times always bring people together and in spite of all of damage that’s been done, that’s a wonderful thing.that we should be thankful for. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Thanks. I didn’t know any of this. The last I heard there was a problem was back when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. No wonder Amir Khan has voiced his concern about such anti (any religion but Hinduism) mentality.

  5. Glad to see you on “Rays” this morning, and will be most interested to read more of your blog. India and the East are my spiritual homeland(s), and I love and respect my spiritual friends. Unfortunately (or fortunately), people are the same everywhere, despite individual and cultural differences…and as you say, trouble brings togetherness.

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