Prime Minister Modi Announces 26 December As 'Veer Baal Diwas'; But Sikh Religious Bodies Are Not Happy
This is a fitting tribute to the courage of the Sahibzades and their quest for justice, says the Prime Minister.
However, Sikh religious bodies have expressed their reservations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a big announcement on Sunday (9 January), marking the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikhs.
He announced that ‘Veer Bal Diwas’ will be celebrated every year on 26 December from this year onwards.
Prime Minister Modi, making the announcement through a tweet, said “Today, on the auspicious occasion of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, I am honoured to share that starting this year, 26th December shall be marked as ‘Veer Baal Diwas.’ This is a fitting tribute to the courage of the Sahibzades and their quest for justice.”
He hailed the sacrifice and ideals of Mata Gujri, Guru Gobind Singh and their four sons (sahibzades) — two of whom, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (nine) and Sahibzada Fateh Singh (six) were tortured to death on 26 December 1705 by Wazir Khan, the Mughal governor of Sirhind. Wazir Khan subjected the young sahibzades to the worst form of torture and intimidation, and offered to free them if they embrace Islam. The sahibzades rejected the offer, which angered the Mughal governor, who on the orders of Aurangzeb, then sentenced them to be bricked alive.
In another tweet, the Prime Minister said: “The bravery and ideals of Mata Gujri, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the 4 Sahibzades give strength to millions of people. They never bowed to injustice. They envisioned a world that is inclusive and harmonious. It is the need of the hour for more people to know about them.”
“Veer Baal Diwas will be on the same day Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji attained martyrdom after being sealed alive in a wall. These two greats preferred death instead of deviating from the noble principles of Dharma,” he added.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body that regulates Sikh shrines, while welcoming Prime Minister Modi’s decision to observe 26 December as the Veer Baal Diwas, has expressed its reservations regarding the nomenclature of the day.
“We appreciate the sentiments of the Prime Minister, but connecting the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas to baal (child) is not fitting for their martyrdoms. In view of Sikh history, doctrines, and traditions, the incomparable sacrifices of the Sahibzadas of the Dasven Patshah (10th Guru) are like those of great warriors,” said SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami on Sunday (9 January).
He further said that "Sikh religion is based on certain principles, history and Gurbani. One should respect these principles. SGPC will appeal to the highest Sikh temple authority, Akal Takht Sahib, to give its formal approval to the proposed day."
Dhami said that the sahibzades are honoured with the word ‘Baba’ in Sikh history, and hence the word should be fixed before their name. "The decision might have been taken by Prakash Parv of Guru Sahib but it is not acceptable to the Sikh panth (community)," he added.
Giani Harpreet Singh, jathedar (head priest) of the Akal Takht, said that it was a welcome sign that Prime Minister Modi wanted the history of the sahibzades to be taught in schools, but limiting their martyrdom to a ‘Veer Baal Diwas’ is not acceptable. He further argued that Sikh institutions should be consulted whenever such decisions are taken.
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