Light and Liberation
400 years later — the need for solidarity in action continues.
Last night, I celebrated Bandi Chor Diwas along with millions of other Sikhs around the world. It is a day where we honour the liberation of political prisoners. It is a time of spirituality, family and community. But for me-this year felt different.
As a child, a bedtime story my father would often tell was the one of Guru Hargobind Sahib ji’s unjust imprisonment and subsequent release with 52 other political prisoners during the Mogul reign.
Every year, we celebrated it with great joy and fervour — usually including a trip to the gurdwara. And for me, I was inspired by the roots and resilience of the Sikh community — to always speak against the oppressors no matter what the outcome.
The next day, after all the candles are lit and the mithai has been passed — most of us move on with our lives.
Last year, after sending out my usual ‘Happy Bandi Chor Diwas’ texts — I was awestruck by a response that a Sikh activist elder shared with me. My dear friend, Mita Hans, told me that every year to honour this day — she asks herself, ‘What would Guru Hargobind Sahib do?’ Normally, that includes writing a letter asking for the release of indigenous political prisoner — Leonard Peltier. This year, it included letters for unjustly imprisoned Kashmiri’s and indigenous folks in illegal solitarily confinement in Ontario jails (like Adam Capay).
Inspired by her, I made a commitment to add a different ritual to my yearly texts and trip to the gurdwara — one that included raising my voice for political prisoners everywhere.
STANDING ROCK AND SIKHI
Last week, hundreds of peaceful protesters were violently attacked and arrested. Indigenous water protectors have been protesting the toxic and Dakota Access Pipeline that will be running through their lands. The corporations and the government is directly challenging their sovereignty, their right to clean water, and their right to peacefully protest.
They are doing this for the future of all of us. And I feel, it is our responsibility to support them in anyway we can — especially as Sikhs.
They are in desperate need of SUPPLIES and more specifically, DONATIONS to free the unjustly imprisoned also known as — political prisoners. And I think as Sikhs we know something about challenges to sovereignty and the unjustly imprisoned. And us Sikhs, we’re good at mobilization, raising money for those in need and seva so the call has been made by the Water Defenders. Will we be there?
So hopefully, this year and every year on, your Bandi Chor Diwas includes action with the ritual and just like Guru Hargobind Sahib ji — our action includes allyship and solidarity.
Happy Bandi Chor Diwas! (Political Prisoner release day)
May we continue to fight for liberation.
May we continue to work together to dismantle the systems that create political prisoners.
May we recognize that we are all of one light - from the past, present and to the future.
May we recognize within us we carry the light of all the revolutionaries that came before us and are to come.
From Blacks Lives to those in Standing Rock, Punjab, Palestine and Kashmir —
One day we will all be free.
* Special thanks to Mita Hans and Nanky Rai for their continued inspiration by constantly living the principles of Light and Liberation. *