Winter Holiday Series: The Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Devotees count donations at the site where Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was killed in 1675 for refusing to convert to Islam.
This Sunday, November 24, Sikh religious Guru Tegh Bahadur will be honored, as he is every November. The holiday is referred to as the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He is number nine in a series of 10 gurus in the Sikhism religion. This holiday day is only celebrated by this religious group and is not recognized as a national holiday in the United States.
Guru Tegh Bahadur ji’s Martyrdom celebration at Gurdwara Pakkisangat held on 16-17th November 2012.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was best known for taking on supreme sacrifice to protect the fundamental rights of human beings. This allows a person the right to freely practice whatever religion they believe in without having to face interference from anyone else. This is a right that many people were denied in 1675. Thousands of people were forced to convert to a religion they did not believe in. Those who refused to convert to a different religion were killed as a result.
The irony in the quest of Guru Tegh Bahadur to protect people’s religious freedom is that he was not protecting the people who practice his religion but rather protecting the people that did not practice his religion. This type of sacrifice was unprecedented because it had never happened in the history of the world. The critical decisions that he made during that time changed the level of sacrifice and devotion that people must practice in order to be considered to be true followers of God.
The emperor demanded Tegh Bahadur convert to Islam, and when he refused, he was beheaded in Delhi.
This day in history is remembered by members of the Sikh community through putting together a procession of dancers, musicians and martial artists that is led by the Panj Pyares. Similar to the celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Birthday, this celebration also includes the public reading of passages from Granth Sahib, a guru in the Sikh community. The Holy Scriptures of Sikh Gurus are read also. People gather to sing and listen to lectures.