Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend was the focus of the town’s celebrations to mark Bandi Chhorh Divas and Diwali on Sunday 12th November, but people from all over the South East and beyond also came to join in the celebrations.

Bandi Chhor Divas is the day on which Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru, was released with 52 Princes and Rajahs from Gwalior Prison. The word “Bandi” means “imprisoned”, “Chhorh” means “release” and “Divas” means “Day” and so “Bandi Chhorh Divas” means Prisoner Release Day. It is celebrated with great joy as it was a time when “right” prevailed over “wrong”. The Mughals had unjustly held hundreds of prisoners who were effectively “political prisoners” and were otherwise innocent leaders of their communities. They had been held without trial or any other legal process; jailed by brute force; held against their wishes. The Guru had found a way to get 52 of these innocent leaders released from the prison without a battle.

At the Gurdwara on Sunday, there was Kirtan (singing of Sikh hymns) and Katha (talking and preaching about Sikh philosophy and history) all day and into the evening. Over 10,000 people are estimated to have come to the Gurdwara during the course of the day, and nearly 5,000 stayed for the spectacular fireworks at 8.00pm, lasting 14 minutes and accompanied by religious songs relating to Bandi Chhorh. Langar (food) was served throughout the day as the thousands who visited enjoyed the shared food prepared by volunteers. Thousands of candles were lit by visitors to signify the triumph of good over evil.

The President of the Gurdwara, Mr Ajaib Singh Cheema, expressed gratitude to Waheguru (God) for making this such a successful event. He also thanked those who recited Kirtan and Katha all day, and the many volunteers (sewadars) who worked tirelessly to make sure that everything went smoothly. Volunteer teams included those who cooked the Langar, provided security cover inside and outside the building as well as helping with traffic management, crowd control, fire safety, first aid, uniting two lost children with their parents within minutes, and the many other tasks that are involved in such an event.

Looking ahead, the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh Faith, is on Monday 27th November. As well as Kirtan and Katha all day on 27th November, the main celebrations will be held over the following weekend, with the main Diwan (congregation service) being held on Sunday 3rd December. On this day, a Health and Wellbeing Day will also be held at the Gurdwara, with several organisations coming along to raise awareness of various health related issues. More information on this will be shared in coming weeks.

If you would like any further information for press purposes, please contact us by email or telephone as in “Notes for Editors” below.

On behalf of:
Ajaib Singh Cheema, Mukh Sewadar (President) and Gurdwara Management Team

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