Bandhi-Chor or an Alibi?

Every year, with arrival of Diwali I am forced to ponder over the hypocrisy that has entrenched our Sikh society. Sure, I am afraid to reason on Diwali/Bandi-Chor Diwas and its importance within the four walls of the Gurudwara, as it would amount to playing with sentiments and lead us nowhere.

So for years I have started isolating myself more and more from this occasion. Unless of course there is great Keertan going on in the Gurudwara, I make it a point not to be present in any community celebrations on this day.

Am I taking it too far?

I don’t know. But I would surely appreciate if someone can help me understand why I should not take it too far!

Here are some thoughts on Diwali/Bandhi Chor Diwas.

Till date Historians have not reached a consensus on the period of Guru Hargobind Jis’ stay in the Fort of Gwalior. Historical texts indicate this period from as short as Forty days to as long as 12 years (Dabistan-I-Mazahi by Muhsin Fani). Some periods indicated in historical texts are 1617 – 19, 1609 – 1611, etc. Muhsin Fani is obviously wrong in stating the 12 year period because most of Gurus children were born during these years.

We know that Indian Calendar system is lunar based and therefore the no. of days in the Solar based calendar does not match with Indian system. If we are not sure about Guru Hargoind Jis period of stay and his discharge from the Gwalior Prison, then how can we mathematically calculate that Bandhi Chor Gurpurab falls every year on the Hindu festival day of Diwali?

If one may object to the above point, then let’s look at it the other way around. If we are sure that he was allowed to leave the prison on Diwali day, then historians should be able to work backwards and have a better understanding of the year of his release.

But till date our historical records are vague about the period he was imprisoned and the year of his discharge.

Some justify the use of heavy lighting at Darbar Sahib on Diwali by linking it with arrival of Guru Hargobind Ji to the city of Amritsar after having been released from Gwalior prison and having sought the release of Hindu nobles (and therefore Bandhi Chor) with his release. It is said that the residents of Amritsar lighted up their houses in happiness of his arrival.

So what are we trying to celebrate on this day?

Release of Bandhis from the Fort of Gwalior or the arrival of Guru Ji at Amritsar?

If Guru Ji arrived at Amritsar on Diwali day, then wouldn’t it be but obvious that a large section of Hindu population residing in Amritsar would have as it is lighted up their houses because of the festive occasion of Diwali?

If we are celebrating the release of Bandhis from the Fort of Gwalior on that day, then one wonders how would the message of release have reached Darbar Sahib the same day over a distance of 600 Kilometers for the Sangat there to have lighted up the lamps?

While Bandhi Chor may be perceived as an important event by many Sikhs and I don’t want to take away the importance from this event, but keep an open mind and think why is it that we Sikhs light up the Darbar Sahib on Bandhi Chor Gurpurab only?

Aren’t other Gurpurabs as much important?

Isn’t Gur-Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib important?

Wouldn’t the arrival of Guru Tegh Bahadur to the city of Amritsar warrant the same kind of happiness as at the time of arrival of Guru Hargobind Ji?

We don’t light up Darbar Sahib in the same way on other important Gurupurabs, so why is it that we do it only on Diwali?

Well let’s not cheat ourselves. The reality is that in-spite of having been Sikhs for centuries, we still don’t want to give up our past baggage of Hindu festivals.

Every Year, come Diwali, Raagis in our Gurudwaras are heard singing the Shabad “Diwali Di Raat, Divey Baliyan”. For the layman the singing of this Shabad of Bhai Gurdas, using an analogy line as the Asthai (Chorus) of the Shabad truly distorts the essence. Repeated singing of this Shabad on this occasion makes it appear that Diwali is a sanctioned festival in Sikhism. But a full reading of the Shabad conveys a totally different message.

Essence of the Shabad is that pleasures of festivities, pilgrimages, etc are momentary and only an understanding of Gurus Shabad leads to prime pleasure of the mind.

Bhai Gurdas Jis’ Vaar 19 Pauri 6

Diwali Di Raat Devey Baliyan
Tarey Jaat Sanat Ambar Bhaliyan
Phula Di Bagat Chun Chun Chaliyan
Tirath Jati Jat Nain Nihaliyan
Har Chandauri Jhat Vasaye Uchaliyan
Gurmukh Sukh Ful Daat Sabad Smaliyan

Lamps are lighted on the night of Diwali festival; stars of different variety appear in the sky; in the gardens the flowers are there which are selectively plucked; the pilgrims going to pilgrimage centers are also seen and the imaginary habitats have been seen coming into being and vanishing. All these are momentary, but the Gurmukhs with the help of Word nourish the gift of the pleasure fruit.

As most Sikhs originated from the Hindu mainstream, have we not found an Alibi (an excuse) in Bandi Chor for our inability to part with our past baggage of celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali?

Amardeep Singh

I am not the Author of this article. However, I do know the author very well. The author does not intend to play down the importance of Bandhi Chore nor is he asking you to make a grumpy face and sit at home..He is just asking you to wonder why we celebrate in this manner.. Is this event more special than most Gurupurabs ?

Also I would like to point out the fact that Harminder Sahib and many other Gurudawaras were under the control of Hindu Mahants..from the time the Sikh Empire fell in 1849 to the early 1900’s( I am not too sure of the year) when the Sikhs won the right to take charge of their own shrines..During this time in harminder sahib around the parkikarma there were idols of hindu gods and goddesses..

Angad Singh

Gur Fateh!

This week has been rather hectic..with all the deadlines just round the corner the coming few weeks are going to be as hectic if not worse.

Today I plan to write about why I feel Gurmat Sangeet is important and its traditions. The reason I am writing is every now and then people ask me what is so special about gurmat sangeet.

However, before I go on to talk about gurmat sangeet I will like to ask you to watch out for this space as soon I will be posting an article written by Amardeep Jee on diwali/bandhi choor. I might add a paragraph or too to it. The findings, I am sure will shock most if not all my readers.

I have been listening to Kirtan done as per traditions of Gurmat Sangeet for over a year now. And I must say it really helps to understand Gurbani better. By understanding I mean understanding the underlying meaning(s) not living by those teachings. Living by those teachings is simple yet very difficult as your interpretation changes with time. As you divulge deeper you interpret things differently.

You may ask why gurmat sangeet, we can read pothis and understand it. Also why cant we get this from the normal kirtan we hear in the gurudawara sahib on a regular basis. The reason is simple. In Pothis you will read translations/ explaination and this surely helps us understand gurbani better but most of us don’t really get down to doing that. Also unfortunately today a lot of kirtaneeyas do not use the Raho line as the chorus and this leads to an incorrect interpretation of the shabad. When a shabad isung, the raho line is the chorus. Raho line is the main theme of the shabad so the main theme gets re- enforced. In addition kirtan done by puritan kirtaneeyas, they explain the meanings of some of the words used in the shabad so it becomes easier to understand the shabd. Also they explain the tradition behind how they are singing. Right now I do not know the importance of this tradition but I am sure I will understand with time.

In the earlier days when our gurus were in the human form the kirtan diwan followed a particular order:

Dandot Bandan or Mangal Charan
Chota/Bara Khyal
End with a Pauri
Anand Sahib( if its the end of the diwan and degh and fresh degh is prepared)

Dhrupad Vilambit and Khyal are different styles of singing. They were prevalent during the times of our gurus. Right now I do not really understand the importance of singing in these styles but I am sure with time I will understand some time in the future.

Initially when I stared listening to Kirtan done as per traditions of Gurmat Sangeet I just let the kirtan play in my room for about 1 week just to get used to the voice of the Kirtaneeyas and their style of doing kirtan and it was not too long before I developed a liking for it.
Some good website to download and read about gurmat sangeet please visit the following links
Look around on the website and you may want to begin by downloading the kirtan done by Dharam Singh Zakhmi jee

Bhai Avtar Singh Jee is good as well but his style of singing is more classical.
has articles written by Amardeep Jee on Gurmat Sangeet.
Bhai Baldeep Singh is he the grand nephew of Bhai Avtar Singh and has done a lot to preserve the traditions of Gurmat Sangeet

You can also scroll down on my blog and download the shabads on Dhrupad and Alaniyah. I will remove these shabads on Monday 0000GMT in order to put up more shabads.

The Saturday Assa Di Waar was good. Amongst the various shabads Amardeep Jee sang, he sang the 1st shabad he learnt… Shant Paye Gur Sat Gur Poorey..The other shabads included

Oha Prem Piri
Rakaha Ek Hamara Swami
Beet Jaey Beet Jaey

After the Assa Di War we went to the park where some of us played in the park while others took a walk. I was one of those who was playing =p. Unfortunately I left my camera in the car and wasnt able to take any snaps 😦

We then headed to Gurjot’s house for breakfast. The breakfast was really good. We started off on a healthy note with lots of fruits. After which, being the true punjabis thatt we are..who live to eat…we had bread pakoras..( bread fritters). Then we had strong tea with elachi in it with Bourbon Biscuts( a type of chocolate biscuts found in India). Oh!! I almost forgot the Hash Browns

The process of eating just went on for about 2 hours at least. We then sat down do discuss the 2nd pauri of the Assa Di Waar.

Amardeep Jee explained that in the Assa Di Waar the 1st pauri describes the True Guru, the 2nd talks about God and the others Tell us what we should not do.

This is a website that gives a good explaination of the Various shabads in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Do visit the website as it gives you a different flavor as compared to the explaination done in English.

I do know a lot of people frequent my blog and I would like to ask you if there is anything you guys want me to post about. Like a particular shabad, etc.

Guru Ang Sang!


Dear All,

Gur Fateh!

Not to long ago, I was listening to the the shabad Saajanara Mera Sajanara. And all of a sudden I realized the meaning of the shabad, its is so simple yet soo deep.

It is clearly mentioned in the Shabad that without the True Guru one will never notice God, who is standing right next to him.

Kaho Nanak Gur Bin Nahee Soojhai Har Sajan Sabh Kay Nikat Khara Hain.

Click here to download

The Shabad is sung in Ramkali Raag by Bhai Avtar Singh Jee in 15 matras and the Panj Taal is being played.

Amardeep Uncle if you would like to add any points please do so.

Guru Ang Sang!

Interesting Blog on Sikhism

October 17, 2005

Dear All,


I came across an interesting blog. It is a very simple blog and the points mentioned on that are so straight forward. The light in which the writer looks at the topics discussed is really nice.

I belive all of us should read this and we might understand a lot of things about Sikhism that we dont understand.

I suggest all of you at least read the last post titled Unshorn hair..

Go check it out

Guru Ang Sang!

Today Morning I went for Asa Di War and I was in B L I S S. Most of the Assa Di Waar Chakey were sung in 8 matras and Gurjot Singh Jee played the Keherwa with a open left hand.. In addition, Amar Deep Singh Jee Sang 1 shabad in Vilambit(slow style) and 1 in Dhrupad !


I have taken a few videos that I would like to share with all of you.



The 1st one is of Gurjot Singh Jee playing the the Keherwa with an open left hand

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In the 2nd video he is playing the JhapTal while Amardeep Singh Jee was singing in Vilambit. From the facial expression you can tell the amount of concentration that is needed to play the tabla while playing to a Dhrupad composition.

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The purpose of this video is to show you how difficult it is to sing in Dhrupad. Look at the facial expression of Amardeep Singh Jee. Can you see the concentration! The Taal Gurjot is playing is Iktal.


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I have up loaded a shabad in which Dharam Singh Zakhmi Jee explains what the traditions of Dhrupad are and then sings Raag Malkuns in 12 matras and Har Iqbal Singh Jee( his son, and tabla player) plays the Chau Taal.

This was recorded in the 1960’s in Kula Lampur, Malaysia. My Prajee, Dr. Jasbir Singh “Scotland” was kind enough to give me this shabad so that I could share it with all of you.

Click to download the shabad.

After the Assa Di War we sat down and Amardeep Jee explained to us What exactly Assa Di War is.

Waar basically is a poetry. In the Shri Guru Granth Sahib we have various different kinds of Vaars ie. Basant Ki War, Gauri Ki War Assa Ki War etc. The most commonly sung Waar today is the Assa Ki Waar or Assa Di Waar.

The manner in which the Assa Di Waar is done is as follows:

Sing the chakka, read sloak and then sing the pauree.

The Chakkas are written in Raag Assa and are mentioned on other pages of the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Jee.

Assa Di Waar has 24 Pauris. The sloks are many more and are to be read in it and they are to be read in Tunday Asraje Ke Dhuni. Today no one knows what this particular dhuni wad like as this knowledge was passed down by word of mouth and with time, it has been lost.

These sloaks were inserted by Guru Arjan Dev Jee. Some of the sloaks were already put in by Guru Nanak Dev Jee, the sloaks starting with Mehla 1. The other sloaks have been put by Guru Arjan Dev Jee.

Click to download entire Assa Di Waar ( scroll to the bottom of the page and download both Assa Di War 1 and 2) and to download Basant Ki Waar.


Amardeep Uncle please correct me where there is a need. If you want to add more details of any sort please go ahead and add them


Guru Ang Sang!


Gurmat Sangeet – Alhaniya

October 13, 2005

The Sikh Gurus incorporated various folk tunes along with the main styles of singing of the 15th and 16th Century – Dhrupad and Khyal. More on Dhrupad and Khyal in later posts..

This particular shabad is in Raag Wadhans and it is sung in Alhaniyan. Alhaniyan were sung by the women of the family who just lost a member. They sang the praises of the person who just passed away. So the gurus instead included this form into Gurmat Sangeet so that the grieving family member could sing praises of Waheguru rather than the person who passed away.

There are 2 shabads in Alahaniyan. They start on page 578 and end on page 580 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Each shabd comprises of 4 sections.

This shabad is Sung by Bhai Avtar Singh Jee and his jatha. In the shabad he explains a little bit more about Alahaniyan.

Dhan Siranda Sacha Patshah- Bhai Avtar Singh Jee

The second shabad is Avoh Miloh Saheliyo Sachra.

To listen to more of Avtar Singh Jee’s Shabads

Ps. Amardeep Uncle please correct me if I have mentioned anything that is incorrect.


October 8, 2005

We learn that light travels in a straight line..but this Sardar..Dr. Kapany made light bend…read to know more about this great man. Posted by Picasa


October 8, 2005

The Hariminder Sahib in all its Glory..taken from the Blog for MPA Posted by Picasa

Dear All,

Gur Fateh!

I just found out that all students of SMU are given 50MB of server space free of cost. I have decided to use this space to put up Kirtan that is done as per the traditions of Gurmat Sangeet.

I intend to put up 1 or 2 shabads per week along with the meaning of the Shabad and how it has been sung.

Hope you guys like it.

God Bless

Angad Singh


October 4, 2005

Dear all..

Step 1: go to
Step 2: Key in the word FAILURE

See the result..

Guru Ang Sang


October 2, 2005

We know him by different names ..but there is only 1 god.. Posted by Picasa