DIWALI AND SIKHI
By Karminder Singh Dhillon Ph.D (Boston) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Note: This is a revised and updated version of the original which was first published in The Sikh Bulletin Vol 10, No 11 & 12 Nov-Dec 2008. Editor. November 2013
This article attempts to answer the question: Is Diwali a Sikh Celebration? It is inspired by the actions of some Sikhs to celebrate Diwali within the precincts of the local Gurdwara. Such celebrations range from encouraging Sikhs to bring sweets and delicacies to the Gurdwara, lighting the Gurdwara premises with oil lamps, to actually conducting full scale kirten, katha and ardas diwans in relation and in conjunction with Diwali.
Some parbhandaks, parcharaks and ragees have justified such practices by quoting Gurbanee, citing historical incidents that connect Diwali to our Gurus, and by pointing to the prevailing practices relating to Diwali of the Darbar Sahib and other Takhts.
This article thus aims to (i) examine the Gurbanee quotes that are said to suggest that Diwali is a Sikh festival, (ii) examine the Diwali-related Sikh historical incidents cited, and (iii) encourage evaluation of prevailing practices (pertaining to Diwali) in the Darbar Sahib, Amritsar etc. The final part of the article will attempt to put Diwali into its original and proper perspective by tracing the origins, purpose and philosophy of the festival.