Diwali

DiwaliLightDiwali

Diwali is a very significant day for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. It celebrates the home coming of Rama, who was the seventh avatar of Vishnu and the legendary king of Ayodhya, after his exile in the forest for 14 years. It also celebrates Rama’s victory over Ravana, the evil king of Lanka that, as legend has it, was a brute who kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita. Diwali is such an important day that it is recognized as an official holiday in India.
The legend states that the good people of Ayodhya, welcomed Rama home by lighting long rows of lamps. This is where Diwali gets its other name, “the Festival of Lights”, from. Diwali is derived from the two words “avail”, meaning rows, and “dipa” or “divas” meaning lamps. These lamps are lit to signify the victory of good over evil, especially within a person.
Diwali also has other significance for other religions. For example, in South India, Diwali represents the victory of Krishna over Narakasura, and in the religion of Jainism, Diwali represents Mahavira’s attainment of nirvana. The Sikhs celebrate the release of Guru Har Gobind Ji who had been held captive by the Emperor Jahangir. The Guru was welcomed home with candles.
There are many beautiful festivals around the world that celebrate Diwali. It is really a pleasure to watch, or even take part in, these wonderful traditions. Some of these celebrations have become famous in non-traditional areas. You can now celebrate Diwali as far away as such places as: Australia, Singapore, South Africa and even Trinidad and Tobago. It is truly an international celebration.

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16

The Sikhs around the world commemorate the martyrdom of their first martyr, the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev every year on June 16 since his death which took place in 1606 during the Mughal Era. According to Sikh Historians, prior to the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, Sikh had enjoyed peace and non-violence as their Gurus educated them in the worship of one God, showing compassion, love for humanity, dedication, hard work and a staunchness toward amity and harmony between every individual around the globe.
Guru Arjan existed during the time of the great Mughal Emperor Jahangir. During his guru-ship, he attracted and converted thousands of Hindus to Sikhism . Poor and illiterate Muslims were among those that became the followers of this Guru. They started to crowd in Govindwal, the hub of Sikhism during the late 16th Century. Sikhism flourished during the time of Emperor Akbar who was liberal regarding religious issues. He was the one who introduced ‘Deen-e-Islam’ a  blend of Hinduism and Islam intended to earn sympathies of Hindus and expand his Kingdom. In contrast, Emperor Jahangir was a hardcore Muslim who was not happy with the gatherings of Muslims at Govindwal. He felt there was a threat to Islam in the Sub Continent. Hence, Guru Arjan was tortured on the orders of the angst-ridden Jahangir and died on June 16.