Many Sikhs participate in the celebrations of Diwali, the festival of light, without actually knowing what the significance of the date is in Sikh history. I can admit that for a long time, Diwali didn’t hold much importance for me because I didn’t fully understand why we celebrated it. In fact, today is not only Diwali but also marks Bandi Chor Diwas a day where Sikhs join together to celebrate the release of the sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Ji from imprisonment. The historic event itself should be acknowledged with significance – particularly the fact that upon order of his release from Gwalior Fort, Guru Hargobind Ji refused to leave unless the 52 princes who had also been imprisoned would also be allowed to leave. Thinking of others’ rights were more important than simply thinking of his own.
To me, the day is a reminder of the concept of Sarbat da Balla, or the welfare of all. Sarbat da Balla is a guiding principle that hopefully makes our words and actions bring about positive change to the greater good. As we approach the upcoming election (7 days to go!), it is these principles that should help advise us on those issues that affect not just ourselves but the collective good. While the economy is the principal concern on the minds of most voters, healthcare is an important issue that will also sway votes in a meaningful way.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that voters agree that in the face of a struggling economy “it is more important than ever to take on health care reform.”