In the city of Amritsar in India’s Punjab region, the Harmandir Sahib (ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ) stands as the most sacred site of the Sikh faith.
The temple, or gurdwara, was first constructed in the 2nd century after the excavation of the holy lake in which it stands. Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru, designed the temple as a central place of worship for his faith. The architecture and decoration of the site are marked by details symbolic of the Sikh worldview. Notably, a series of four entrances open onto the lake from all sides, welcoming visitors of all faiths.
After suffering substantial damage during a wartime attack, the temple was rebuilt in the 1700s and later adorned with its signature gold exterior in the early 19th century. Now, the temple itself houses the Adi Granth, the central religious text of Sikhism, as well as memorial plaques and inscriptions for commemorating sacred sites, events and the Sikh soldiers who died in the World Wars.
“Sri Harmandir Sahib (also known as The Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib) is a Sikh holy shrine situated in Amritsar, Punjab. A visit to the Sri Harmandir Sahib is an awe-inspiring and a very humbling experience. Regardless of religion or gender, all are welcome at the Sri Harmadir Sahib, as well as take part in the Langar (The Free Kitchen). With the Gurbani (hymns) echoing in the background, and the devotees doing sewa (service), the beauty of the complex is multiplied. Truly a humbling experience, the Golden Temple is a symbol of peace, equality, harmony, and tolerance. The very teachings of Sikhism.”
The Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib) is situated in Amristar, India and attracts Sikhs from not only all over India but also the entire world. The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion, and during the daily meal time an estimated 80,000 people receive free food. The Golden Temple is open not only to the Sikhs but people of all other religions. On average, 350,000-400,000 people visit the Golden Temple every day. On occasions like Amavasya, Sakranth, Diwali, Vaisakhi, and Guruparv, the turnout increases considerably. According to temple officials, around 1 to 1.5 million people visit the temple on these days. The Sikh religion, which emerged in the Punjab region about 500 years ago, rejects the social hierarchies of caste, a precept of Hinduism. The four entrance doors (North, East, South, West) of the Golden Temple signifies Sikhism’s acceptance of people of all walks of life regardless of caste, race, or religion. The principle of equality is enshrined in the langar, where everyone eats together sitting on the floor, regardless of social status. The Golden Temple’s dome is said to be gilded with 750 kilograms of pure gold.
This is the kitchen for the golden temple in Amritsar. During the weekend they cook for over 80,000 people a day! Curry, daal, curd rice and chapati. Everything is cooked over wood fires and made from scratch. It is possibly the cleanest kitchen I have seen in India. I spent most of my time hanging out in the kitchen chatting with these guys.
Significance of Diwali for Sikhs: Diwali is a panoramic festival of lights that spans and unites the various regions and people of India. Here are some events that link the importance of Diwali for Sikhs:
The third Guru, Guru Amar Das, marked Diwali as an important day where by the Sikhs would gather together in congregation in the presence of the Guru.
In 1577, the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar was laid on Diwali.
The sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind, was held in captivity as a result of religious persecution, and upon his release and arrival at Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar, the Sikhs celebrated his return by lighting the Golden Temple with lamps. The Guru also freed 52 other kings that were also held captive. This event is also referred to as Bandi Chhorh Diwas.
The Sikhs would gather and discuss important community affairs and issues on Diwali.
There is a famous saying in Punjabi which signifies the importance of Diwali : Daal roti ghar di, Diwali Amritsar Di.
Sikhs celebrate Diwali in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, along with the annual lighting up of Golden Temple, fireworks and other festivities.