Diwali across Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism
The Story of Bandi Chor Diwas
While Diwali celebrations are underway, Sikhs across the world are celebrating Bandi Chhor Diwas – Prisoner Liberation Day – the day when the sixth Guru – Guru Hargobind was liberated from Gwalior Fort and took 52 prisoners to freedom along with him. Upon release, Guru Hargobind reached Amritsar on Diwali day.
However, he only agreed to leave prison if the 52 Hindu princes who were imprisoned with him would also be freed. To limit the number of prisoners, Emperor Jehangir said those who clung on to the Guru’s coat would be freed with him. Guru Hargobind had a coat made with 52 tassels allowing all the princes to hold on to it and be freed.
The story reminds Sikhs of freedom and human rights, which is why they celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas.
The significance of Diwali in Buddhism
Diwali is an auspicious day for Buddhist, as it is the day when Emperor Ashoka gave up his violent ways and adopted the path of peace after going through a lot of bloodshed and death. In 265 BC he decided to convert to Buddhism and the day is thus marked as Ashok Vijaydashami. Buddhists world over chant mantras to remember Lord Buddha, and the Emperor.
The story of Mahavira
Diwali is a special day in the Jain calendar as it is the day when Lord Mahavira attained Moksh, Nirvana, or eternal bliss. Celebrated as Mahavira Nirvan Diwas also known as Mahavir’s Nirvan Kalyanak Divas is Lord Mahavir’s Attainment Anniversary. Bhagwan Vardhman, also known as Mahavira, was the last of the 24 Tirthankaras or prophets of Jainism. It is said that he attained nirvana on October 15th 527 BC at Pavapuri, which is in today’s Bihar.