Festivals and Gurpurbs

Sikhism like every other religion has it’s own festivals and important days to celebrate. Gurpurbs celebrate all events connected with the Sikh Gurus, these include the birthdays of the Sikh Gurus, Gurus leaving for heavenly abode or the martyrdom days of the Sikh Gurus. The other main events are Vaisakhi, Diwali and Hola Mohalla.


The Gurpurbs that are celebrated are:

January 5th Birth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
May 2nd Birth of Guru Arjan Dev Ji
June 16th Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji
September 1st Installation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji
November 24th Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji
November 26th Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji


Vaisakhi is celebrated on 14th of April and is associated with the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the start of the harvest in Punjab.

The chola (cloth covering the flagpole) of the Nishan Sahib is changed as part of the Vaisakhi celebrations when a Nagar Kirtan is held where the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is taken in a procession to each of the six Gurdwaras in Bradford. At the head of the procession there will be the Panj Pyarey (five beloved ones) followed by the members of the Bradford Sikh community.

In Bradford, the tradition is to rotate the Gurdwara from where the Nagar Kirtan will start and end.


The Diwali festival signifies freedom and justice and is celebrated to commemorate the release in 1619 of Guru Hargobind Ji from imprisonment. Guru Hargobind Ji was the 6th Guru, he was the son of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and was imprisoned because Guru Arjan Dev Ji had refused to change his faith away from Sikhism.

Eventually, the Emperor Jehangir ordered the release of Guru Hargobind Ji but Guru Hargobind Ji refused to leave prison unless 52 imprisoned Hindu Rajas were also freed. The Emperor agreed that Guru Hargobind Ji could take as many Hindu Rajas with him that could hold onto his cloak whilst going through the narrow passages of the prison. Guru Hargobind Ji had a cloak made such that it allowed all 52 Hindu Rajas to hold on and so he was able to free all the prisoners.

On Guru Hargobind’s arrival at Amritsar, he found that the Sikhs had used lamps to decorate Harmandir Sahib (also known as The Golden Temple) in honour of his release.

Thus Diwali symbolises freedom of conscience, freedom to practice one’s own faith, to respect another person’s faith and to fight persecution.

Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara celebrates this festival with a religious service, with langer being served and with a fireworks display in the evening.

Hola Mohalla

Guru Gobind Singh Ji instigated the festival of Hola Mohalla in 1680 at Anandpur Sahib and coincides with the Hindu Holi festival. Hola Mohalla is a time to practice military exercises.