FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS GOES DARK
SIKHS ACROSS THE WORLD CANCEL CELEBRATING DIWALI
Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) across the UK and the world are holding a ‘Black Diwali’, where for the first time in 23 years Sikhs will not be lighting candles or setting off fireworks.
Sikhs traditionally celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas (Diwali for Sikhs) with candles/divas and fireworks. A declaration made by the supreme authority of the Sikhs, the Akaal Takht, has told Gurdwaras to cancel these celebrations due to the pain felt by Sikhs at the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy Sikh scriptures which to Sikhs represents God on earth.
Recently, across Indian state of Punjab, there have been several cases of desecration against Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Due to the lack of investigations and arrests by the Punjab Police, thousands of Sikhs peacefully protested all over Punjab. In response, police met the protests with extreme violence, shooting two unarmed protesters dead and severely injuring hundreds more.
Gurmel Singh of the Sikh Council says of the ‘Black Diwali’ resolution;
“Issues in Punjab have currently reached a new level of aggravation against the Sikhs. Attacks against our Guru – Guru Granth Sahib Ji – are the most devastating and disrespectful thing that could possibly happen to our community.
“As we are still in the midst of what is seemingly sustained and planned attacks against the Sikhs, it has been ordained by the Akaal Takht, the supreme authority of the Sikhs in Amritsar, Punjab, that Gurdwaras the world over should not celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas through fireworks or lighting of candles this year. Many UK Gurdwaras have agreed to this and the Sikh Council supports this stance.”
In recent history this decision has only been taken twice before; once in 1984 after the Sikh genocide and once in 1992 after political prisoners Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha were hung.
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW AND COMMENT
Gurmel Singh of the Sikh Council UK
Regional Gurdwara representatives across the UK
Children observing their first Black Diwali