The Akali Movement also known as Gurdwara Reform Movement came into full swing from the early 1920’s. It’s aim was to bring reform in the working and management of Sikh Gurdwaras.
The campaign which gained tremendous support, especially, from the rural masses, took the form of a peaceful agitation-marches, divans, religious gatherings, and demonstrations for Sikhs to assert their right to manage their places of worship.
The Gurdwaras, its property and wealth were being misused by the Mahants and Priests of the temple. With the establishment of British rule in Punjab, the lands and property attached to the Gurdwaras were entered against the names of the Priests or Mahants. Thus Mahants considered the Gurdwara as their personal property and misused the income of Gurdwara on drinking and loose living. Bad characters flocked around them as Chelas to lead easy and immoral lives. In this way the Mahants converted these sacred places of virtue and religion to centres for immoral life.
Gurdwara Reform Movement or Akali Movement was created to free the Sikhs historic Gurdwaras from these Mahants who were supported by the British rule. The Sikhs had to give supreme sacrifices and endure untold brutalities to free to historic Gurdwaras like Tarn Taran, Nanakana Sahib and Guru-Ka-Bagh. In addition Sikhs had to fight for the freedom of faith and management of the Gurdwaras against the Government in respect of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj, Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, and Gurdwara Jaito.
In this movement the Sikhs faced with great calm and courage the cruelties and death inflicted on them by the British Government and the Mahants, supported by the British. Eventually the Gurdwara Reform Act was passed in July 1925 which placed all Gurdwaras in Punjab under Panthic control. This control was to be exercised through elected Panthic bodies viz, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee and local Gurdwara Committees. Thus holy places were rid of the corrupt elements and practices and their income could be used for propagation of the Sikh faith and good of the community.