Today, Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. Guru Arjan Dev is cherished by Sikhs for a number of reasons. Firstly, Guru Arjan Dev laid the foundations of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, India, designing it with four doors symbolising its acceptance of people from ‘all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow.’
Secondly, Guru Arjan Dev’s collation of the previous four Gurus’ writings into one volume formed the basis of the Sikh Holy Book, Guru Granth Sahib, which went on to become the eleventh and final Sikh Guru. Thirdly, he became the first Sikh martyr and awakened the Sikh community to the horrors of violence when he was arrested and tortured to death by the Mughal Emperor in 1606. Previous to the Guru’s martyrdom Sikhs had renounced all violence and weaponry in their pursuit for peace and harmony for all peoples of the world.
Sikhs observe the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev with prayers, kirtan (devotional hymns) and katha (lectures on Sikhism). For more information about the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev please click here