The Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib is observed on June 16 every year in India. It’s the day to commemorate and celebrate the life of religious figure Guru Arjan Dev who sacrificed his life for the Sikh people. This holiday is annually celebrated usually by reading the Sikh holy book from cover to cover. In some years, processions are held where sweets are distributed to people after a day of worship. It is important to note that this day is not just about sadness or remorse; it’s also about the celebration of his life, as well as the lives that lived because of him.
History of Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib
Born in 1563, Guru Arjan Dev was one of the ten Sikh Gurus who pioneered Sikhism. Out of all of them, he contributed the most to the religion. He constructed the Golden Temple in Amritsar and compiled spiritual poetry and musical ragas in the Adi Granth, which was installed in Harmandir Sahib. The prophets also mandated the Sikhs to donate 10% of their earnings to charity.
In 1605, newly appointed Emperor Jahangir had the vision to turn the nation into a full Islamic empire. He demanded Guru Arjan Dev to convert to Islam — an offer he then refused. Due to Guru Arjan Dev’s lack of desire to adopt Islam, the rise of Sikhism in the region, and his continuous influence on people, he was captured by Emperor Jahangir in 1606. He was imprisoned in Lahore, making him the first of the two Sikh Gurus who were martyred.
The torture of Guru Arjan Dev was unimaginable. He was made to sit on burning hot plates while hot sand was poured all over his body. This lasted for at least five days. On the last day, he was taken to the River Ravi and was never seen or heard from again.
The Gurudwara Deha Sahib was built on River Ravi where Guru Arjan Dev was killed. On this day, Sikhs from all over the region gather and celebrate through processions, worship ceremonies, and peaceful gatherings to commemorate his life, sacrifices, and his outstanding contributions to Sikhism. This is a way for Sikhism to continue to live on for the next generations to come.
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib timeline
Mata Bhani gives birth to Arjan Dev.
At age 18, Arjan becomes the fifth Sikh guru.
Guru Arjan Dev lays the foundation of the Golden Temple and compiles the Adi Granth.
Emperor Jahangir captures, tortures, and kills Guru Arjan Dev.
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib FAQs
Who’s the founder of Sikhism?
Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, but it was Guru Gobind Singh who formalized the religion.
Who was the other guru executed by Emperor Jahangir?
Guru Tegh Bahadur was the other Sikh guru executed for political oppression.
Was Guru Arjan Dev’s body found?
According to historical records, Guru Arjan Dev’s body was never found.
How to Observe Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib
Read the Sikh holy book
One of the traditional activities done by Sikhs every year is to read the holy book from cover to cover. This book is called the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Visit the Gurudwara Dera Sahib
The Gurudwara Deha Sahib is the memorial spot for Guru Arjan Dev. It’s part of an ensemble of monuments where commemoration ceremonies take place every June 15 annually.
Attend processions outside Gurdwaras
Join a short-route procession outside Gurdwaras where Sikhs walk at a steady pace. Floats are usually present and the atmosphere of the event is vibrant — a celebration of his life.
5 Interesting Facts About Guru Arjan Dev Sahib
Guru Arjan Dev contributed 2,000 hymns
He is responsible for the largest collection of hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Arjan’s cause of death is unclear
Up to this day, there are no clear accounts of whether Guru Arjan Dev was executed by drowning or died by torture.
Sikhism is a large religion
With 26 million members, Sikhism is the ninth-largest religion in the world.
His followers are not just Sikhs
Hindus and Muslims also become followers of Guru Arjan Dev.
90% of Sikhs are from India
The majority of Sikhism members are from India, while others are from Italy, Indonesia, Germany, Pakistan, and the United States.
Why Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib is Important
It keeps the religion alive
The Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev keeps Sikhism alive. The annual tradition of reading the holy book and learning about the sacrifices of Guru Arjan Dev is vital for the longevity of the religion.
It makes our faith stronger
Learning about the torture that Guru Arjan Dev went through is a great reminder that people should be grateful for all his contributions to Sikhism. It’s powerful to learn about how strong his faith is, and it could inspire people to pray and sacrifice more.
It brings the community together
There’s a sense of community in celebrating the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib. It’s that day of the year where Sikhs gather in a shared experience of faith and prayer.
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib dates