Guru Hargobind being released from the Gwalior Jail along with 52 Rajas, who held the strings attached to the dress of the Guru, hence the Guru was called Bandi Chhod.
Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali) is the anniversary of Guru Hargobind ji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort. In was on this day in 1619 A D. The kind Guru ji refused to leave the fort of his own and demanded release of other 52 Hindu Rajas. The Moghuls being the cunning rulers they were, decided on a compromise. They said all the Maharajas that can hold onto your Chowla (gown) could walk out free along side you. The Sikhs smartly made a special Chowla with 50 long strips and all the prisoners walked free. Guru Hargobind ji is known as Bandhi Chhor because the imprisoned ones (Bandhi) were released (Chhor) by Him. Upon their return to Amritsar grand celebrations were held. Harmandir Sahib ji (Golden Temple) was illuminated and fireworks were displayed. Gurbani Kirtan (Hymns) and prayers were performed.
Guru ji was always prepared to sacrifice his own freedom for the sake of other innocent people. Once Guru ji was accompanying Jahangir, then, a tiger attacked Jahangir. He fired all his shots/arrows but missed attacking on tiger. His accompanying officers failed to respond to his distress call. Brave Guru ji got off His horse and put the tiger to rest with His sword. This incident made Jahangir feel obliged to Guru ji for having saved his life and he began to repent for the sin he had committed by ordering assassination of Guru Arjun Dev ji (Guru ji's father). He visited Guru ji's mother, Mata Ganga ji and apologized for the cruelty. Guru ji demonstrated the extreme and difficult virtue of "forgiveness" when He saved Jahangir's life from an attacking tiger, despite all the hostility and the awful act of ordering assassination of the 5th Guru, Guru Arjun dev ji with an excuse that the latter was a threat to Islam.
Diwali of 1737
Bhai Mani singh transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh ji in 1704 at Damdamma Sahib. After heavenly abode of Guru Sahib in 1708 he look charge of Harmandir Sahib ji's management. In 1737, invitations were rent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhor Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. A tax of 5000 rupees (some say 10,000) had to be paid to the Mogul governor of Punjab; Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Zakariya Khan wasn't happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh ji's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice and devotion of Bhai Mani Singh ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali) celebration. After knowing the great history of these occasions or festivals, heart wants to say:
"Raaj Na Chaahayu, Mukti Na Chaahyu
Man Preet Charan Kamlaare"
I neither desire for empire and material realm nor liberation or mukti,
my soul longs for the love of your lotus feet.
to give us understanding,
so that we may know what
and may all (all whole mankind)
prosper by the Grace.
What do we learn from Bandi-Chhor Diwas?
52 Hindu Kings were freed with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib could have left the Fort when he was offered the chance. However, Guru Ji thought of others before himself. Others freedom and rights were more important than his own. Guru Ji is always thinking not of his emancipation but everyone's emancipation. This is the attitude and virtue which Guru Ji filled within his Sikhs, by putting into reality this positive message.