Maghi is one of the three festivals chosen by Guru Amar Das Ji to be celebrated by Sikhs (the others being Baisakhi and Diwali)
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib states about the month of Magh:
People take baths on the first day of Magh; you should take the bath of service of the guru; in holy congregation remember God’s virtues, listen and give discourse of them to all. This way the ill-effects of wrongdoings of past births will be negated and vanity will leave the mind. (Kaam) desires and (Krodh) wrath and (Logh suaan) dog-like greed will no longer afflict the mind. Those who walk the righteous path are praised by the world; this is (Parvaan) acceptable spiritually rather than bathing at the sixty eight pilgrim centers, observing all superstitions and observing non-violence. This understanding comes to those to whom the Creator kindly gives; this makes them truly wise. I adore those who find Akal Purakh within.
People purify themselves by baths in the month of Magh, but those are truly purified who receive guidance from and follow the guru.
Accordingly, during the month Magh the “Sikh’s cleansing bath should be the dust of saintly congregation (sadh sangat) – be humble; be polite. One should meditate and involve others also. By doing this, the filth of bad karma is removed together with one’s ego. Desires and greed will depart when one walks on the path of the truth.
MAGHI AND THE 40 MUKTE
Sikhs visit the Gurdwara as the day of Maghi is observed to honour the heroic fight of the Chali Mukte, or the Forty Liberated Ones, who sacrificed their own lives defending an attack by the imperial army marching in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh. The action took place near a pool of water, Khidrane di Dhab, on 29 December 1705 and the cremation took place on 30 December 1705 (30 Poh), the day of Magh Sikhs will take a holy dip in water on Maghi
A large fair is organised on Maghi in Muktsar known as Mela Maghi where the fight of the Chali Mukte took place and the Battle of Muktsar took place.It is believed that who ever shall bathe in the pool at Mukstar, shall receive salvation.
PARKASH UTSAV SRI GURU GOBIND SINGH JI
This festival’s name, when translated, means the birth celebration of the 10th Divine Light, or Divine Knowledges.It commemorates the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru. The festival is one of the most widely celebrated event by Sikhs.
An annual festival of thousands held at Anandpur Sahib. It was started by Guru Gobind Singh as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles. The mock battles were followed by kirtan and valour poetry competitions. Today the Nihang Singhs carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. There are also a number of darbars where kirtan is sung. It is celebrated by Sikhs across the world as ‘Sikh Olympics’ with events and competitions of swordsmanship, horse riding, Gatka (Sikh martial arts), falconry and others by Nihang Singhs.
In Punjab it is celebrated as the Birth of Khalsa brotherhood. It is celebrated at a large scale at Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib. In India, U.K., Canada, USA, and other Sikh populated areas, people come together for a public mela or parade. The main part of the mela is where a local Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) has a beautiful Sikh themed float on which the Guru Granth Sahib is located and everyone offer their respect by bowing with much reverence and fervour. To mark the celebrations, Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurudwara before dawn with flowers and offerings in hands. Processions through towns are also common. Vaisakhi is the day on which the Khalsa was born and Sikhs were given a clear identity and a code of conduct to live by, led by the last living Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who baptized the first Sikhs using sweet nectar called Amrit.
MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN
The martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru, falls in June, the hottest month in India. He was tortured to death under the orders of Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, on the complaint of a Hindu banker Chandu Lal, who bore a personal enimity with Guru, at Lahore on 25 May 1606. Celebrations consist of Kirtan, Katha and Langar in the Gurdwara. Because of hot summer, chilled sweetened drink made from milk, sugar, essence and water is freely distributed in Gurdwaras and in neighborhoods to everybody irrespective of their religious belief as a sign and honour of the humble Guru who happily accepted his torture as a will of Waheguru and made no attempt to take any action.
FIRST PRAKASH SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI
It is the day when the Guru Granth Sahib was bestowed with the title of being the eternal and final Sikh guru thus ending the line of Human gurus.
BANDI CHHOR DIVAS(DIWALI)
On the day of Bandhi Chhor Diwas (The Celebration of Freedom), Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, who also rescued 52 Hindu kings held captive by Mughal Emperor Jehangir with him in the Gwalior Fort in 1619. The Sikhs celebrated by lighting their homes with lights and candles with the tradition continuing till date with Harmandir Sahib beautifully decorated with colourful lights to mark this celebration. It is celebrated by lighting divas and going to a Gurdwara to listen to gurbani.
PARKASH SRI GURU NANAK DEV JI
On this day Guru Nanak was born in Nanakana Sahib,now situated in Pakistan. Every year Sikhs celebrate this day with large scale gatherings. Candles, divas and lights are lit in Gurdwaras, in the honour of Guru along with fireworks. The birthday celebration usually lasts three days. Generally two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of Guru Granth Sahib) is held in the Gurdwara. One day before the birthday, a procession is organized which is led by the Panj Pyares (Five Beloved Ones) and the Palki (Palanquin) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and followed by teams of Ragis singing hymns, brass bands playing different tunes and devotees singing the chorus.
MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR
On this day Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred when he refused to convert to Islam. Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib where the Guru was martyred
The Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb cherished the ambition of converting India into a land of Islam. His experiment was first carried out in Kashmir. The viceroy of Kashmir carried out the policy vigorously and set about converting non-Muslims by force. A group of Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins), approached Guru Tegh Bahadur and asked for his help. They, on the advice of the Guru, told the Mughal authorities that they would willingly embrace Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur, did the same.
Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib in Anandpur Sahib where the head of guru was brought and cremated in defiance of Mughals
Orders of the arrest of the Guru were issued by Aurangzeb and the Guru was arrested at a place called Malikhpur near Anandpur after he had departed from Anandpur for Delhi. He was arrested, along with some of his followers and sent to Sirhind the following day. The Governor ordered him to be detained in Bassi Pathana and reported the news to Delhi. His arrest was made in July 1675 and he was kept in custody for over three months. He was then cast in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November 1675. The Guru was put in chains and ordered to be tortured until he would accept Islam. When he could not be persuaded to abandon his faith to save himself from persecution, he was asked to perform some miracles to prove his divinity. On his refusal, Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in public at Chandni Chowk on 11 November 1675. Guru Ji is also known as “Hind Di Chadar” i.e. “the shield of India”, suggesting that to save Hinduism, Guru Ji gave his life.
OTHER SIKH FESTIVALS
There are some other (around 45) festivals that are celebrated at a much smaller scale with some being centred in particular regions or towns that are not included in the above list. Thoses include Parkash Utsavs (Birth anniversaries of the other 8 Sikh gurus), Gurgadi Divas (passing of guruship), Jyotijot Divas (death anniversaries of other Sikh gurus), Basant Festival of kites which is celebrated in Chheharta Sahib Gurdwara in the village of Wadali where Sri Guru Hargobind Ji was born in 1595, to celebrate the birth and many other such festivals. All Sikh festival include celebrating by gathering at Gurdwara, paying obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib and listening to Gurbani, Kirtan and reciting Paath.