“Chabeel” is a Punjabi word meaning a cold, non-alcoholic sweet drink. It is a drink that is served to general public during the hot days of summer. It doesn’t only provide relief from the scorching sun and heat but also has a deeper meaning. It spreads the message of eternal optimism. It is celebrated to remember the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji who became the first Sikh matyr in 1606 for refusing to change the Sikh scriptures as asked by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The story tells us that for refusing to follow orders, the Guru was made to sit on red hot iron sheet while the Mughal soldiers poured burning hot sand on his body. The Guru was dipped in boiling water too. This torture went on for five days and he even refused the help of a Sufi who offered to heal his burns saying that he has to accept the will of God.
After the torture, the Guru asked for a bath in the Ravi River. Thousands of followers watched on as Guru Arjan Dev ji walked into the water chanting, “Sweet is your will, O God; the gift of your name alone I seek”.
He asked the Sikhs to accept God’s will as sweet instead remembering this event through mourning. Therefore, Sikhs changed negativity into positivity by turning an attack upon them into a chance to serve others. Sikhs honor the Guru’s burning by cooling everyone else. This is Chardi Kala.
Chardi Kala translates to ‘ever-rising spirits.’ It dictates that one should be eternally optimistic as a sign of their contentment with the will of God, even during the times of adversity. This summer, when people will be feeling a little hot and tired, Sikhs will be there to spread positive energy.
Chabeel is a remembrance of the torture meted out to the Guru and the relief that River Ravi provided him in the end.
For many years, Sikhs in India have served Chabeel to the general public between the months of May and June. Last year The Sikh Press Association* in UK decided to hold a Chabeel week and spread the message of Chardi Kala.