A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple’s Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple’s Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Diwali, the festival of lights, holds a special place in the hearts of millions around the world. It is a time for joy, togetherness, and spiritual renewal. While Diwali is celebrated across India, one of the most enchanting places to experience this festival is at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In this article, we will delve into the magic of Diwali at the Golden Temple, exploring its significance, traditions, and the mesmerizing celebrations that light up the night.

A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Golden Temple Aglow: A Spectacle of Light During the Festival of LightsA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

On the occasion of the Festival of Lights, the entire complex is resplendent with light from every imaginable source of light. Powerful colored floodlights, LED series lights, and innumerable rows of yellow bulbs can be seen contributing to the illumination of the Golden Temple. In addition, there are earthen lamps and candles everywhere in the long and wide circular path built on all four sides of the Amrit Lake. The effect of yellow-orange light rising from all four sides is so brilliant that the whole complex seems to be bathed in gold.

Gleaming Gold of Harmandir Sahib: A Scientific Marvel at DiwaliA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

The main temple, called Harmandir Sahib, is entirely covered by gold. In addition, the gold sparkles in a manner as the light rays of yellow-orange light fall on them. The reason for this lies in science. The human eye can distinguish colors starting from 390 nanometers (brown) to 700 nanometers (red). A gold surface absorbs all rays of the spectrum with wavelengths up to 500 nanometers. From five hundred nanometers, the next-wavelength rays are recognized by the human eye as yellow, amber, and finally red. Since gold reflects the light rays of 600 nanometers to the highest extent, the metal appears to us in a yellow-saffron color. The gold inlaid on the Golden Temple plays in the same way with the rays of light—and that’s why Diwali looks golden here.

The Golden Temple: A Place of Divine BeautyA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Before we dive into the Diwali celebrations, it’s essential to understand the significance of the Golden Temple. Known as the “Harmandir Sahib,” this iconic Sikh shrine is located in the heart of Amritsar, Punjab. The temple’s golden facade shimmers in the sunlight, and it stands as a symbol of spiritual and architectural brilliance.

Enlightening the Golden Temple: From Lamp Flames to Electric LightsA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

The golden temple that today glows with hundreds of bulbs was dark years ago. The only sources of light were lamps and candle flames. As soon as the sun sets, hundreds of Desi Ghee lamps are lit and placed in the complex. According to Sikh faith and tradition, the scripture ‘The Guru Granth Sahib‘ should be recited fluently and non-stop by a scholar called Granthi. Hence, the two volunteers, after sunset, used to stand with earthen Desi Ghee lamps on silver plates for hours in the temple, and Granthis (readers) used to continue reading ‘The Guru Granth Sahib’ with the help of the dim light of the lamps.

A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

This tradition had been going on for years, until the first initiative of change in 1896. It so happened that, when many cities of India were facilitated by electricity in the 19th century, some devotees of the Golden Temple proposed to electrify the temple as well. The idea was introduced with the noble intention of providing sufficient light to the people visiting the temple at night, and the Granthis reading in the lamplight was innocent. But within days it became a source of controversy. The administrators of Golden Temple were not ready for the arrival of electricity in the temple premises because electricity was a dangerous and deadly thing to them. Moreover, they believed that the splendor and dignity of the Golden Temple would be reduced by lighting the electric lamps.

The Electric Debate: Bijlibhakts vs. Gurubhakts in Illuminating the Golden TempleA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

First there were differences over whether the electricity should be allowed in the temple premises. Later in the city of Amritsar, two parties were formed, ‘Gurubhakts‘ and ‘Bijlibhakts‘. The ‘Gurubhakts‘ were the granthis, sevaks, sevadars and devotees of Harmandir Sahib who considered electricity dangerous. On the other side (Bijlibhakts) were the Sikhs who wanted to illuminate the temple with electricity. The ‘Bijlibhakts’ who wanted to illuminate the golden symbol of faith at any cost formed a ‘Lighting Committee’ of 11 prominent members of the Sikh community, prepared pemphlates in favor of electricity, distributed them all over the city of Amritsar, and also started soliciting donations from people for the electrification of the temple.

Mediation and ExperimentationA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

On this side, the ‘Gurubhakt’ remained steadfast in their decision. Maharaja Bikram Singh of the Faridkot princely state of Punjab took matters into his own hands when the granthis of Harmandir Sahib, who did not want to allow the ‘Bijlibhakts’ to succeed in their mission, showed firmness to the point of resigning. The two parties not only made a middle ground but also adopted a middle way, according to which it was decided to erect electric bulb poles on an experimental basis at some places in the circuit path of the Golden Temple. Maharaja Bikram Singh donated twenty thousand rupees for it.

Electricity Illuminates the Golden Temple: The Controversial TransitionA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

The day to illuminate the Golden Temple with electric bulbs was decided on June 22, 1897, when British India was to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria‘s reign. Artistic cast-iron pillars were erected in the Circumambulation path around Amrit Lake, and their bulbs were switched on in the evening. With that, light spread in all directions. The golden dome that was placed on the temple began to glitter. This golden eye-catching sight soothed the eyes of ‘Bijlibhakts’, while the eyes of ‘Gurubhakts’ did not like the sight. The next day, ‘The Khalsa‘, the most influential newspaper in Punjab province, ran an editorial against the electrification of the Golden Temple. One sentence was striking in it: ‘Sikhs seek enlightened light from their Gurus, not artificial light from electricity.’A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

After the above sentence, the people of the entire Punjab raised such a yoke against the ‘Bijlibhakts’ that the only option for them was to cut off the electricity connection to the Golden Temple. After one night of enough glare, the Golden Temple turned dark again amidst the dim light of the lamp. The tradition of earthen lamps in Desi Ghee continued, and it continued for the next twenty years. Even when the entire city of Amritsar was illuminated by electric bulbs, the ‘Gurubhaktas’ did not allow the connection of electricity to the Golden Temple.9 3

Now even the residents of Amritsar were losing their patience. On a dark night, there is light in the houses and streets of city, But it was hard for them to let the symbol of faith remain in darkness. Finally, respecting public demand and public sentiment for electrification, The Gurudwara Management Committee of the Golden Temple had to allow access to electricity in the complex. In 1929, the entire premises lit up with the light of electric bulbs.

Diwali at the Golden Temple: A Unique Experience

Diwali, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is celebrated with immense fervor at the Golden Temple. The celebration typically extends over five days, with the main event falling on the third day. The atmosphere is nothing short of magical, with thousands of oil lamps and candles lighting up the temple complex, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle.A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Today, about four and a half lakh (450,000) people from all over the country visit the Golden Temple on the day of Diwali to see the artificial light, which was once opposed by the ‘Guru-Bhakts’ as a substitute for candles and lamps. 1,700 LED lights emitting yellow-orange light of 2200K/Kelvin are installed at different places in the Golden Temple complex. Each one has a lumen output of 18,000. (Comparison: A candle has 12.6 lumens.) Besides, the series lights, made up of thousands of small and large bulbs, cast such a magnificent light that every visitor is dazzled by seeing the yellow-golden glare all around the premises. The sight of the reflection of the magnificent temple floating in the calm waters of Amrit Sarovar makes it ‘eye-catching’. With the changing times, modern sources of light have been incorporated here, but the glory of ghee lamps and candles has not diminished. For example, 4,00,000 lamps were lit here on the day of Diwali four years ago. Even today, millions of devotees remember their sixth Guru Hargobindji by lighting lamps and candles.

The Significance of Diwali

Diwali, derived from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali,” means a row of lamps. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists celebrate Diwali, each with their own unique customs and beliefs.A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

The day of Diwali has two significances in Sikhism. For one thing, like the whole of India, it is celebrated here as the festival of light. The second glory is historical. According to chronicles, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir forced the fifth Sikh priest Arjan Dev to convert to Islam in the early seventeenth century. Guru Arjan Dev denied converting. So the enraged Jahangir beheaded him. The year of this event was 1606 AD, when Arjuna Dev’s son Hargobind was only 11 years old. Hargobind, highly skilled in weapons and scriptures, took over as the chaplain of the Sikhs. In the traditional ritual of Gurupad, he carried two swords named ‘Miri’ and ‘Piri’ at his waist. One sword is a symbol of discipline, the other of ‘Dharmaraksha‘ (protection to the religion)! 

The Spiritual Essence of Diwali

At the Golden Temple, Diwali has a profound spiritual meaning. It signifies the return of Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru, from imprisonment. The illuminated temple represents the welcoming of the Guru with great enthusiasm.

Guru Hargobind’s Struggle and Triumph: The Birth of Akal Takht and the ‘Bandi Chhod’ DiwaliA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Guru Hargobind took the lead in fighting the Hindu-Sikh conversions by the Mughal rulers. As a symbol of the power of the Sikh community, a grand construction called Akal Takht was made on the premises of the Golden Temple. Mughal Emperor Jahangir became worried when Hindus and Sikhs living in different parts of the country started joining Guru Hargobind. Jahangir felt that Guru Hargobind was preparing to avenge the death of his father, Arjan Dev. Hence, he fraudulently imprisoned the 14-year-old Hargobind in the Gwalior fort, According to one account, the Guru spent 3 years in prison, during which he came into contact with a Sufi fakir named Miyameer.18 2

The Sufi fakir was impressed by the extraordinary knowledge and wisdom of the young Guru Hargobing. Believing this person to be a divine soul, Miamir approached Jahangir with a proposal to set him free. After some time, Jahangir released not only Guru Hargobind but also other fifty-two Hindu kings imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort. After getting independence, Hargobind went to Amritsar, where people were celebrating Diwali. The arrival of the Guru made their festival auspicious. The day of Diwali became significant among Sikhs as ‘Bandi Chhod’ (freedom of the captive Guru).

Preparing for Diwali: A Community Affair15 2

The preparation for Diwali at the Golden Temple begins weeks in advance. The entire community comes together to clean the temple premises, repair and decorate the interiors, and make delicious sweets and snacks for the devotees.

The Temple Complex

The Golden Temple’s surrounding complex is a sight to behold. It consists of a serene Sarovar (holy lake) and the main temple building. During Diwali, the whole complex is adorned with flowers, colorful lights, and intricate rangoli (decorative art made with colored powders).

Akhand PathA Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Before Diwali, a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism, is held. This is known as Akhand Path, a 48-hour non-stop recitation that fills the air with spirituality and devotion.

Diwali Night: A Beacon of Light

The actual Diwali night at the Golden Temple is a spectacular event. Devotees from all walks of life gather at the temple to participate in the celebrations.21 2

Lighting of Lamps

As the sun sets, the temple complex is illuminated by thousands of lamps and candles. The reflection of these lights in the holy Sarovar is breathtaking, creating an otherworldly ambience.

Fireworks Display

Diwali celebrations are incomplete without fireworks. At the Golden Temple, a grand display of fireworks fills the night sky with bursts of color and light, symbolizing the victory of good over evil.A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Devotional Music

Kirtan (devotional music) echoes through the air, adding a spiritual dimension to the festivities. The melodious hymns and prayers create an atmosphere of peace and serenity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, experiencing Diwali at the Golden Temple in Amritsar is nothing short of a divine encounter. The combination of spirituality, community, and the visual spectacle of lights and fireworks makes it a unique and unforgettable experience. This celebration truly embodies the essence of Diwali, the triumph of light over darkness, and the victory of good over evil. Diwali-cum-Bandi Chhod festival is celebrated with great pomp in Amritsar every year since the seventeenth century till date. Devoted mingling kirtans in the magnificent golden surroundings of the Golden Temple, an ethereal atmosphere full of faith, fireworks filling the sky, food served at the langar, a dip in the Amrut lake—experience it all once in a lifetime.

If you seek a Diwali celebration that transcends the ordinary and touches your soul, make your way to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It’s a journey that will leave you with cherished memories of a radiant and spiritually uplifting Diwali celebration.A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

Accommodation options in Amritsar

If you’re planning to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar and are looking for hotels nearby, you’re in luck. Amritsar offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. Here are some hotels located near the Golden Temple:

(1) Hyatt Amritsar:Hyatt Amritsar P001

Located just a short drive away from the Golden Temple, the Hyatt Amritsar offers a luxurious stay with modern amenities and excellent hospitality. 

 

(2) Hotel HK Clarks Inn:201101181141157521 f4c6fa88cfc011ed87710a58a9feac02

Situated in close proximity to the Golden Temple, this hotel provides comfortable rooms and a convenient location for tourists.

 

 

(3) Ramada Amritsar:

A comfortable and well-located hotel offering easy access to the Golden Temple and other attractions in Amritsar.

 

 

 

(4) Golden Tulip Amritsar:ab5a600840ae9196c401f68d34bd187b24e6dad6e15e01046493fcbb8de3

This hotel is not only close to the Golden Temple but also offers a splendid view of the temple from its rooftop.

 

 

(5) Hotel CJ International:

A budget-friendly option near the Golden Temple is perfect for travelers looking for affordable accommodation.

(6) Hotel Sarovar Regency:

A mid-range hotel with a good balance between price and comfort, making it a suitable choice for many travelers.

(7) Hotel Temple View:

As the name suggests, this hotel offers a great view of the Golden Temple and is within walking distance.

(8) Hotel City Heart:

A comfortable and well-maintained hotel located near the Golden Temple, making it a convenient choice for visitors.

(9) Hotel Grace:

Situated within walking distance of the Golden Temple, Hotel Grace offers a pleasant stay with easy access to the temple complex.

(10) Hotel Hong Kong Inn:

Another budget-friendly option that provides a decent stay close to the Golden Temple.
These hotels offer a variety of amenities, ranging from budget to luxury, and most of them are conveniently located for those who wish to experience the spiritual and cultural richness of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Be sure to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your stay near this iconic site.A Divine Diwali: Witnessing the Golden Temple's Luminous Celebrations in Amritsar

People Also Ask:

1. What is the Golden Temple in Amritsar?

The Golden Temple, also known as Harmandir Sahib, is a sacred Sikh shrine in Amritsar, Punjab, India. It’s one of the most revered places of worship for Sikhs and is known for its stunning golden architecture.

2. When is the best time to visit the Golden Temple?

The Golden Temple can be visited throughout the year, but the best time is during Diwali or other Sikh festivals for a truly magical experience. Avoid the scorching summer months.

3. Is there an entry fee to visit the Golden Temple?

No, there is no entry fee to visit the Golden Temple. It is open to all, regardless of their religion or nationality.

4. What are the dress code and etiquette for visitors?

Visitors are required to cover their heads (scarves are available at the temple), remove their shoes, and maintain a respectful and quiet demeanor while inside the temple complex.

5. Can non-Sikhs participate in the Langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple?

Yes, the Langar at the Golden Temple is open to all, regardless of their religion or background. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience Sikh hospitality.

6. Are there any restrictions on photography inside the Golden Temple?

Photography is allowed in most areas of the temple complex, but it’s advisable to check with the local authorities for any specific rules and guidelines.

7. How can I reach the Golden Temple from the Amritsar railway station or airport?

The temple is approximately 15-20 minutes from the Amritsar railway station and around 30 minutes from the airport. Taxis, auto-rickshaws, and cycle rickshaws are readily available.

8. Is it safe to visit the Golden Temple at night?

Yes, the Golden Temple is open 24/7, and it’s considered safe to visit at night. In fact, the temple is beautifully illuminated after sunset, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere.

9. What are the nearby attractions in Amritsar apart from the Golden Temple?

Amritsar offers several other attractions, including the Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple, and the Partition Museum, which are worth exploring.

10. Are there any specific rules for non-Sikh visitors during religious ceremonies or events?

While non-Sikhs are welcome to observe religious ceremonies, it’s important to be respectful and follow the customs and guidelines of the temple. Avoid interrupting or taking a prominent role in the ceremonies.

11. Can I volunteer at the Golden Temple’s Langar?

Yes, the Golden Temple welcomes volunteers to help with the Langar. You can inquire at the information center or with the Langar organizers for details on how to participate.
Visiting the Golden Temple is a unique and enriching experience, and understanding these FAQs will help you prepare for your trip and make the most of your visit.


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